Posted by Karen Wong

January 07, 2019

Will automation raise anxiety on the workforce? McKinsey estimates that between 400 and 800 million individuals could be displaced by automation and would need to find new jobs by 2030. Although automation will pose a threat to employment and eliminate jobs, it is important to also consider the new opportunities it can bring and how it can transform the structure of work and future jobs.

Roles at Risk

A study conducted earlier this year by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that automation will likely impact quite a large number of industries. The graph below created by The Economist shows which industries and the percentage of people that will likely be affected by automation:


Jobs that are at high risk of being automated includes the manufacturing and agriculture industry. This is no surprise as humans have been displaced by robots in manufacturing plants for many years now. Other sectors that are at high automation risk would be transport and logistics. Large corporations such as Amazon and UPS are looking into drone delivery services which may be faster and cheaper than existing logistic methods.


An increase of New Jobs

Despite the fears of AI and related technology that could lead to widespread unemployment, PwC predicts that such technologies will create more jobs to offset the impact of automation. They believe the largest net gains in job creation will be from the services sector, “where 50% of new jobs will more than compensate for the 21% of displaced jobs, resulting in a net effect of 97 million positions.”

Robots and AI have been created by humans and they require humans to operate. Humans need to be in control in order for technology to provide what it is programmed to do. Technology can facilitate and reduce monotonous tasks but they are unable to generate creativity and critical thinking.

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