Automation in the workplace

There has been a lot of media coverage recently regarding the technological advance of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotics and how they could result in jobs being ‘computerised’.

The popularity of AI & Machine Learning

The continual progression of technology means that computers are getting increasingly clever; being developed to carry out functions that, a decade ago, we would have never dreamed they could complete.

In short, there are certain jobs that could be taken over by automated robots – especially within manufacturing where technology is already eliminating the need for people on the factory floor. Robots can work without breaks, won’t take unexpected sick days and have the potential to produce more in a shorter time, to a more precise level; it is clear why they are an attractive prospect to employers.

But could automation in the workplace extend beyond manufacturing? The reality is: yes. The rate at which robotics and machine learning are progressing suggests that a wide range of different workers and industries could be significantly impacted by automation in the not-too-distant future.

Automation in the workplace

How is it going to influence the workplace?

PwC recently released figures of a study that analysed the various tasks and skills involved in the jobs of over 200,000 workers across 29 countries (including 5,500 UK based workers). The findings of their study suggested that there will be three overlapping waves of automation that will affect jobs between today and the mid-2030s.

These waves, and the cumulative percentage of UK jobs that could be impacted are:

  • Algorithm – can lead to faster and more efficient analysis and assessments (to early 2020s): 2-3%
  • Augmentation – heightened performance due to functional autonomous devices (to late 2020s): 20%
  • Autonomy – full autonomy is implemented, such as driverless vehicles (to mid 2030s): 30%

The figures show that the initial job displacement will be minor, but as technologies mature further and are rolled out across the economy, autonomy will become increasingly common. PwC is not the only establishment to assess the potential threat to the human employee; in 2015 the Bank of England estimated that 15 million jobs may be at risk.

Some of the jobs highlighted as likely to be ‘computerised’ include:

If you would like to see an extensive list and to find out whether your position is likely to be at risk of being automated, you can browse various job titles on the table constructed by the Telegraph.

The future isn’t only robots

There are certain skills and industries that will be affected more than others, and many challenges will come to light. But for the jobs market as a whole, automation should generate enough opportunities to offset any potential losses. It offers individuals the chance to up-skill and increase their value, and perhaps even cause them to look down a new avenue for their career.

%d bloggers like this: