Robotic technologies penetrating sectors across the board will cause widespread job cuts in the next five years

Robots to trigger widespread redundancies by end of decade

The rise of robotics and artificial intelligence in the world’s strongest economies will see more than five million people losing their jobs in the next five years, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The analysis, published during the think-tank’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, foresees that overall 7.1 million jobs will be lost in 15 economies that account for 65 per cent of the total global workforce, while only two million jobs will be created. That makes a net of 5.1 million lost jobs.

Previously, the International Labour Organisation, part of the United Nations, forecast that global unemployment will rise by 11 million by 2020 due to the dynamic technological development.

Automated computer-driven technologies are gradually penetrating various sectors including manufacturing and health care, offering better efficiency than human workers.

Two-thirds of the losses projected by WEF are expected to affect office and administrative roles as smart machines take over more routine tasks.

The “Future of Jobs” analysis, based on a global survey of personnel and strategy executives, talks about the fourth industrial revolution that is currently underway and which will affect sectors across the board. The healthcare industry is expected to be hit the most due to the rise of telemedicine, followed by energy and financial services.

The loss of more routine jobs will be partially offset by a growing demand for certain skills including data analysis and special sales.

The study estimates that women will suffer more than men from the developments as they make up a majority of people working in administrative and office roles.

While men will see approximately one job gained for every three lost over the next five years, women face more than five jobs lost for every one gained.

Another study, published separately on Monday, stated that four out of ten young people fear machines will take over their jobs within a decade.

The study, carried out by software service firm Infosys, asked 16 to 25-year-olds in Australia, Brazil, Britain, China, France, Germany, India, the United States and South Africa how they felt they education prepared them for their jobs.

Almost 80 per cent said they had to learn new skills not taught at school and that the rapid technology change forces them to constantly learn fresh skills.

"We must transition away from our past; shift the focus from learning what we already know to an education focused on exploring what hasn't happened yet," said Infosys Chief Executive Vishal Sikka.

40 per cent of those surveyed admitted they feared automation will eliminate their jobs in the next ten years. Young Britons perceived themselves as an even more threatened group, with 45 per cent fearing technology-induced redundancies. Surprisingly, though, British youths came out as the least willing to re-skill in order to adapt to a changing workplace.

Moreover, young Britons were also critical above average about the level of job-preparedness received from the education system. 77 per cent of those surveyed said they had to learn new skills not taught at school or university in order to do their chosen job.
The study, named Amplifying Human Potential: Education and Skills for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, included 1,000 young people from every selected country with the exception of South Africa, where 700 participants were involved.

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