automation job loss

UK firms plan further automation as staff shortages bite

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A third of businesses plan to invest more heavily in automation in order to help with staff shortages, an HSBC survey has found.

The UK is currently suffering from an acute shortage of staff for key positions following the reopening of the economy after the Covid pandemic and the impact of Brexit. The poll of 670 firms found that a record number of vacancies and a shrinking labour force has led some 40 per cent to say they feel negatively about their staffing numbers.

A study from Arden University last week found that nearly a third of jobs in the UK could become redundant due to automation by 2030. In 2018, another study anticipated that just a fifth of jobs were threatened within the same time period.

Fears have also been stoked that Brexit could hasten the automation of British jobs specifically or they could be moved offshore due to immigration curbs and more difficult trading environments.

The HSBC study found that the transport and storage sectors were the most at risk, with up to 56 per cent of roles under threat from automation.

This was followed by 45 per cent of roles in manufacturing, 44 per cent across wholesale, retail, and repair of motor vehicles, 37 per cent in administration and support services, and 32 per cent in public administration and defence, social security/financial and insurance services.

Carl Lygo, chief executive and vice-chancellor at Arden University said: “The transportation and storage, manufacturing and wholesale and retail sectors account for 28 per cent of the UK workforce – meaning 4.2 million jobs are now at risk of becoming outdated and eradicated in the hands of automation.”

The survey suggested that many UK businesses are planning to increase spending and investment despite current cost pressures as they attempt to adapt in the face of difficult market forces.

James Cundy, HSBC UK’s managing director, said: “Corporates that have shown great agility in recent years have not just survived the multitude of growth challenges in recent years but have also thrived.

“The research shows that infamous entrepreneurial spirit of UK businesses continues to lead them to invest, innovate and redefine their growth ambitions.”

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