Robots could do jobs of half our workforce

New report lays bare automation threat to 116,000 workers

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ALMOST half of Warwickshire’s workforce could be replaced by robots, a startling study has revealed.

The rising tide of automation offers great opportunities to businesses in the coming years, but research has found that it also presents a significant risk to 116,000 jobs.

The findings of a study by Warwickshire County Council’s economy and skills team shows that each of those jobs at risk contain daily tasks that have at least a 70 per cent chance of being carried out by robots or computers.

Of these, an estimated 81,500 may be lost in the wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, tourism and construction industries.

But the occupations at greatest risk, according to the report’s exclusive findings, are large goods vehicle drivers, vehicle and metal goods assemblers and those in elementary storage.

Jobs with the lowest chance of being automated are those that require a high degree of creative thinking, including design and development engineers, electronics engineers, quality control and planning engineers, mechanical engineers, and IT business analysts and systems designers.

The report also warns that, based on local labour supply-base shortages and large wage-premiums, automation is likely to have significant impacts on the automotive industry.

Businesses therefore must be encouraged to exploit automation while also having an eye on the potential pitfalls, said council leader, Cllr Izzi Seccombe.

They have been urged to promote retraining and continuous learning among their employees, co-invest in technology and skills, encourage highly-skilled, knowledge-intensive occupations, embed skills for the future within education and training programmes and recognise and promote multiple careers.

“Warwickshire is renowned as a place which embraces new technology and often leads the way and that is a real strength of the county’s economy,” Cllr Izzi Seccombe said.

“But to ensure that the benefits of automation are realised, whilst the negatives are minimised, policy-makers require a cohesive and proactive approach to dealing with rapid improvements in technology.

“For this reason, we have set out the five policy recommendations which can ensure a balanced and productive outcome, and help ensure that the county is well prepared for both the opportunities that automation can bring, but also the potential disruption to employees.”