1.5 million jobs at high risk of automation

1.5 million jobs at high risk of automation


Recent ONS analysis has identified that some of the duties and tasks of 1.5 million jobs in England are at high risk of being automated in the future.

The three occupations with the highest risk of automation have been identified as waiting staff, shelf fillers and elementary sales jobs. The three occupations at lowest risk of automation are medical practitioners, teachers in higher education and senior educational professionals.

The ONS analysed the jobs of 20 million people in 2017 and found that 7.4% are at high risk of automation. An occupation is considered at high risk of automation when its probability of automation is above 70%.

The report is not alarmist about the ‘rise of the robots’ but does recognise that routine and repetitive tasks can be better carried out by an algorithm or a machine. This puts low skilled jobs most at risk. People who work part-time are also more likely to work in roles at a higher risk, but ultimately it’s the occupation that determines the probability of automation, not the working pattern. 

Replacing tasks currently carried out by people, automation encompasses all kinds of technology including computer programmes, algorithms and even robots. So understanding the impact of automation on the labour market, economy and society is increasingly important.

The analysis also identified that women, young people and part-time workers are more at risk as they are more likely to work in roles at high risk of automation. The ONS reports that 70.2% of the roles at high risk are held by women, while those aged 20-24 are more likely to be in a job at high risk than any other age group. 

The risk of job automation decreases for older workers and is lowest for those aged between 35 and 39 years.

It’s a pattern that can be explained by young workers entering the job market in areas such as sales and retail where automation is highly likely. Meanwhile, older workers have naturally gained more skills as they progress in their area and so are in more complex jobs at lower risk.

The number of jobs at high risk decreased slightly between 2011 and 2017 from 8.1% to 7.4%, with the number at low and medium risk has risen. The decrease is being attributed to some jobs already being automated. A good example of those type of jobs are self-checkouts, reducing the need for check out staff.

The number of jobs overall has increased, with the majority in low or medium risk occupations. This suggests the growth in jobs that require more complex skills.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

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