robots job automation

One in five UK jobs threatened by automation by 2030, report warns

One in five existing jobs in Britain are likely to be displaced by 2030 as a result of automation and globalisation, amounting to 3.6m jobs in total, according to a new report from think tank Centre for Cities.

The report found that retail occupations, customer service roles and warehouse jobs are among those most at threat.

The distribution of job losses is not expected to be even across the country, with struggling cities in the North and Midlands anticipated to be hit especially badly in comparison to those in the South.

For example, towns and cities including Mansfield, Sunderland and Wakefield could see two out of five jobs lost, while Oxford and Cambridge face losing just 13 per cent, the study found.

In total, around 18 per cent of jobs are under threat in Southern cities, compared to 23 per cent in cities elsewhere in the country.

The report said the changes would also lead to jobs being created as well as lost, but in Northern and Midlands cities these new jobs would largely be in low-skilled occupations.

It raises concerns that automation and globalisation will magnify the political dissatisfaction and divisions highlighted by the outcome of the EU referendum in 2016, with many cities most at risk of losing jobs also among those which voted most strongly for Brexit.

Up to one in 10 jobs are in occupations predicted to grow, while new industries would bring positions which do not currently exist, it was predicted.

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: “Automation and globalisation will bring huge opportunities to increase prosperity and jobs, but there is also a real risk that many people and places will lose out.

“National and local leaders need to ensure that people in cities across the North and Midlands can share in the benefits these changes could offer.

“That means reforming the education system to give young people the cognitive and interpersonal skills they need to thrive in the future and improving school standards, especially in places where jobs are most at risk.

“We also need greater investment in lifelong learning and technical education to help adults adapt to the changing labour market and better retraining for people who lose their jobs because of these changes.

“The challenges and opportunities ahead for Blackburn are very different to those for Brighton.

“The government needs to give cities more powers and resources to tackle the issues that automation and globalisation will present and to make the most of the benefits they will bring.”

The impact of automation is set to have a huge impact in other parts of the world as well.

In 2016, an International Labour Organisation study found that robots and automation could endanger the jobs of more than half of workers in five South-east Asian countries over the next two decades. 

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