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Jobs At Risk Of Automation: The Likelihood Of Human Workers Being Replaced By Robots In Different Countries (PwC)

24 March 2017, 1:47 pm EDT By Alexandra Burlacu Tech Times
Millions of workers could lose their jobs to robots and artificial intelligence in the future, with some more at risk than others. Roughly 38 percent of U.S. jobs might be at risk of automation, a new PwC report reveals.  ( Gerd Altmann | Pixabay )

A new study looking into job automation estimates that millions of human workers around the world might lose their jobs to robots in the future.

According to a new PwC report, many jobs worldwide risk automation from artificial intelligence and robotics by the early 2030s. However, the report notes that in many cases the jobs won't disappear altogether, but rather change and adapt.

US Jobs Most At Risk Of Automation

While automation will impact millions of human workers globally, Americans seem to be at greater risk of automation. The PwC study reveals that a whopping 38 percent of jobs in the United States are at risk of being replaced by AI and robots over the next 15 years.

That's a higher percentage of jobs at risk of automation compared to other countries such as the UK, Germany, and Japan, where the risk of automation applies to 30 percent, 35 percent, and 21 percent of jobs, respectively.

Service jobs dominate both the UK and the U.S. job markets, with roughly the same share of employees holding positions in core labor sectors such as finance, education, transportation, food services, and manufacturing. However, PwC took a closer look and found substantial differences in the type of work conducted within these sectors that could explain why U.S. jobs face a greater risk of automation.

Routine Task Automation

In some sectors such as finance, the difference is whopping - 61 percent of finance jobs in the United States could be replaced by robots, while the same applies to just 32 percent of UK jobs in the same sector.

John Hawksworth, PwC chief economist in the UK, notes that many positions in the U.S. financial sector focus on domestic retail operations, whereas the financial sector in the UK is more focused on investment banking and international finance. The latter functions entail a notably higher level of expertise and education compared to domestic retail operations.

Hawksworth believes that it's easier to automate routine tasks conducted by U.S. workers than have a robot replace a London investment banker, for instance. Nevertheless, the risks of automation extend to plenty of other industries.

"A key driver of our industry-level estimates is the fact that manual and routine tasks are more susceptible to automation, while social skills are relatively less automatable," Hawksworth explains. "That said, no industry is entirely immune from future advances in robotics and AI."

At the same time, the PwC report doesn't necessarily mean that robots will be taking over and eliminating human workers in some sort of robot apocalypse. The study points out that automation will lead to changes in workforce and, in turn, those changes will translate to other jobs in the future. On the other hand, those jobs will likely be for human workers with higher skill sets, education, and expertise.

Hawksworth heralds a job market restructuring at a global scale, with some labor sectors more susceptible to automation than others. Workers with jobs in health care, education, and social work, for instance, face the lowest risks of being replaced by robots according to PwC.

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