Over 7% of jobs could be vulnerable to automation

  • A new report by the Office for National Statistics has highlighted that over 7% of jobs could be vulnerable to automation in the near future.

    The past few years have seen an increasing number of jobs being automated that were previously thought to be safe. Many UK retailers have replaced a proportion of their cashier staff with self-service checkouts, for example, and customer service systems have become powerful enough that fewer staff are required to handle the same number of customers.

    A report by the Office for National statistics has tried to estimate the impact of automation on current jobs by using data from English companies between 2011 and 2017. It found that 7.4% of active jobs analysed in 2017 data were vulnerable to rapid automation, with staff either being completely replaced by a piece of equipment or fewer staff being needed to handle the same level of work.

    The most at-risk roles were identified as waiters, shelf-stackers, low-level sales jobs, bar staff, and kitchen assistants, all of which were estimated to be around 70% at risk of automation. ONS reprots that fewer jobs are now at risk of automation than in 2011, but that this may be because many of those jobs at risk have since already been automated. Those under 25 were identified as being most affected by loss of work via automation.

    Another report released last month by the Nevin Economic Research Institute assessed the potential for automation in Northern Ireland's industries, focusing on the impact of tools such as robotics and accounting for any new jobs created as a result. It found that around 460,000 NI jobs were at risk of automation, and warned that middle-skill jobs were those most likely to be affected.

    Sources: BBC News, ONS

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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