In Brief

One in three jobs at risk from robots: which roles will die out?

Low-paid repetitive jobs most likely to be replaced by robots and computers over the next 20 years

I, Robot

One in three British workers could be replaced by a computer or robot over the next two decades, new research has warned.

A joint report from the University of Oxford and Deloitte claims that ten million jobs are at risk from huge advances in technology, with low-paid repetitive roles most likely to be replaced.

Manufacturing is likely to face greater automation, it says, while roles that require greater skills, creativity and knowledge are less susceptible.

People earning less than £30,000 a year are five times more likely to see their jobs automated than those paid £100,000, the new research warned.

The Daily Telegraph suggests a new "under-class" could be created of low-skilled people whose jobs have been taken over by machines.

Angus Knowles-Cutler, a senior partner at Deloitte, said: "A widening gap between the 'haves' and 'have nots' is also a risk as lower skill jobs continue to disappear."

'High risk' jobs include:
  • Office and administrative support
  • Sales and services
  • Transportation
  • Construction and extraction
  • Production
'Low risk' jobs include:
  • Skilled management
  • Financial services
  • Computing
  • Engineering and science
  • Law
  • Education
  • Arts and media
  • Healthcare
  • Community services

Knowles-Cutler said that since 2001, 65 per cent of librarian roles had already disappeared, as well as almost half of all PAs and secretaries.

On a brighter note, the report said that new high-skilled jobs will also be created, which have the potential to outnumber the millions that face elimination. This will require the workforce to gain the necessary skills to fill these positions.

Knowles-Cutler noted that the UK had dealt with similar changes before, such as during the industrial revolution, and has an advantage over other nations because London already has the highest number of skilled jobs in the world.

Nevertheless, the report recommends that the UK should start preparing for change by educating people with the digital know-how, entrepreneurship and problem-solving skills that are less likely to be replaced by developments in technology.

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