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article imageAutomation could take almost 40 percent of young workers' jobs

By James Walker     Oct 11, 2017 in Technology
Automation could displace almost 40 percent of young workers over the next 15 years, according to research by PwC. People aged between 16 and 24 in the U.S. are the most at risk but there are also concerns over a lack of homegrown STEM talent in the UK.
The report found that 39 percent of young workers in the U.S. could lose their jobs to automation over the next fifteen years. Germany fared little better, at 38 percent. At the other end of the scale, just 24 percent of workers in Japan are at risk of being pushed out of their current workplace.
As may be expected, people currently in technical or scientific industries are the most likely to be retained. However, only five percent of young people are currently employed in this kind of role, suggesting not enough is being done to spur interest in engineering positions. In the UK, 24 percent of 16 to 24 year olds work in retail. According to PwC, the risk of automation in this industry could be as high as 44 percent.
Education key
The report reaffirms the importance of educating young people if they're to succeed in the future of society. Although it hasn't revealed anything radically new, the statistics are another reminder that not enough is being done to promote STEM subjects and digitally-focused roles. PWC warned that the gap between workers who are protected from automation and those who aren’t could "create barriers" that may eventually impede innovation.
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"Our research shows that the impact of technology advances on jobs will be felt more profoundly by some groups than others, with education level a key differentiator," said Jon Andrews, head of technology and investment at PwC UK. "As new technology advances bring innovation we need to be careful that the impact of this is progressive and does not create barriers."
An automated Brexit
Young people in the U.K. could face particular challenges as they search for stable roles. Although the overall risk of automation is relatively low, at 28 percent of positions, the impact of Brexit and an acute skills shortage is expected to increase competition amongst the workforce.
Brexit could deter major technology companies from investing in the country so homegrown talent will be important to ensure a stable future. The current low employment rate of young people in STEM industries suggests the government should be doing more to promote the importance of the subjects. Across the UK as a whole, PwC said 30 percent of current jobs could be automated in the next 15 years, making expertise in STEM areas an important asset for young people.
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