Today’s reports by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that 7.4% of jobs in the UK are under high risk of being taken over by automation. Which totals 1.5 million jobs in England.
In this report they found that Women, young people, and employees that work part-time are the most likely victims to suffer from this rise in automation, as their analysis showed that 70.2% of toles are held by women. While the age group at the highest risk of suffering from automation being 20-24 at 15.7%.
Although this may be seen as a huge risk and challenge to the UK workforce, this could potentially be seen as a positive step in the right direction as well as opening up new and exciting opportunities for the many people at risk. As reports by World Economic Forum (WEF) found that although automation may replace millions of jobs, by 2022 is could create 133 million new opportunities.
Dean Forces, CEO at Core HR further discussed the positive change that this could bring to the UK workforce saying “It’s easy for workers to be spooked by the key findings here but, if we look beyond the initial disruption, automation could act a positive catalyst for change rather than a harbinger of doom. Resistance to automation is inevitably linked to fears that such technology will make human workers redundant, yet plenty of workers would be better positioned to make real change in their organisations if repetitive manual tasks were taken off their hands.”
Whether this can be seen as a threat or an opportunity it’s important for HR professionals to manage this disruption to the world of work well, in order to maintain culture and talent development. In addition to this if they don’t adapt to these changes then they may be at risk of a talent exodus.
Dean went onto discuss the importance of not seeing this as a threat “Automation does not equal job losses, and it’s important to consider that humanity has been here before. The industrial revolution did not mean less jobs – it just meant different jobs in different places. This is just the next frontier of that. We should be welcoming the improved working practices offered by these technologies, and the time employees can take back and spend on more strategically important projects. In this new age, employees will be empowered to develop new skills – such as problem-solving, adaptability, and creativity – that can be applied elsewhere in the business.”
He concluded by talking about what HR and business leaders can do to ensure they are fully prepared for these changes, “What does need to happen is for HR and management to have open conversations with workers that might be initially affected by such technologies, so they are supported to identify new offerings for customers or to transition to new roles.”
When looking at the roles most likely to be taken over by automation the top three were Waiters/waitresses, shelf fillers, and elementary sales roles. While the occupations that were at low risk to be threatened by these changes were medical practitioners, higher education teaching professionals, as well as other professionals in the educational system.
The analysis looked at the tasks performed by people in jobs across the whole labour market, to assess the probability that some of these tasks could be replaced through automation.