Robots may affect 30% of UK jobs, finance to take early hit

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LONDON: Financial services workers will be among the first to be hit by the rise of automation while women will feel the effects earlier than men, according to research by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The report – which analyzed more than 200,000 jobs across 29 countries – anticipates three stages of automation between now and the mid-2030s, which will eventually impact almost one third of UK workers. The first, the algorithm wave, is already underway.

PwC also found more women will initially be affected, with men more likely to feel the effects in the third wave by the mid-2030s due to the current gender profiles of employment in different sectors. Higher educated workers – particularly in clerical and analytical roles – may take a bigger hit early on, but the less qualified will be particularly exposed in the long run.

While that means workers may need support to learn fresh skills and find new employment, PwC Chief Economist John Hawksworth said that, overall, the change will be positive for the British economy.

We don’t believe that automation will lead to mass technological unemployment by the 2030s, any more than it has done in the decades since the digital revolution began. In the long run, AI, robotics and related technologies should not only make a significant contribution to UK GDP of up to 10 per cent, but should also generate enough new jobs to broadly offset the potential job losses.