Financial, professional and technical services will be the first affected by a wave of automation set to sweep the UK in the early 2020s, with 6-8% of jobs impacted.
This will be largely thanks to algorithms automating data analysis and simple digital tasks, such as credit scoring, with the information and communication sectors also set to be affected.
That is according to new research from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which suggests women will also be first to feel the impact of technology on jobs due to the current gender profile of the labour market.
“Our research shows that the impact from automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will be felt in waves, with more routine and data tasks hit first,” PwC UK AI leader, Euan Cameron, said.
“AI technology is getting more sophisticated every day, and businesses that understand the risks and opportunities can start upskilling their people and adapting, rather than simply reacting when it’s too late.”
A second ‘augmentation wave’ is expected to hit Britain in the late 2020s, which will impact repeatable tasks and exchanging information, with aerial drones, robots in warehouses and semi-autonomous vehicles set to become more prevalent.
This will be followed by an ‘autonomy wave’ by the mid 2030s, when AI will be able to analyse data from multiple sources, make decisions and take physical actions with little or no human input.
By this time it is predicted that up 30% of jobs could be impacted by automation, with robots and driverless vehicles expected to be rolled out more widely across the economy.
This is when sectors like transport, manufacturing and retail will be pushed to the top of the likely automation list, with men most likely to feel the impact of technology on jobs.
However, PwC said that new technologies will boost productivity, income and wealth, and that economic modelling suggests job creation will broadly offset the losses associated with automation in the long run.
“We don’t believe that automation will lead to mass technological unemployment by the 2030s, any more than it has done in the decades since the digital revolution began,” PwC chief economist, John Hawksworth, said.
“But we should not be complacent about the coming waves of automation: there will be challenges to many workers to adapt to these changes through enhancing their skills and retraining for new careers in some cases.”
Financial services companies are looking to digital transformation at a greater rate than most vertical market businesses, and are facing an “acute shortage” of skills as a consequence.
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