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article imageOECD paper warns that automation puts 66 million jobs at risk

By Ken Hanly     Apr 4, 2018 in Technology
A new report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warns members that they are not preparing workers for an automation revolution that could see 66 million workers replaced by machines in coming years.
Thirty two countries were studied. The most vulnerable, one in seven workers on average, were less likely to receive any help when being replaced than those whose jobs were more secure. The OECD report said that 14 percent of jobs in developed countries were highly adapted to be automated. A further 32 percent of jobs were likely to be carried out in quite a different way.
Countries differ in the degree they are vulnerable to automation
In Slovakia a third of all jobs are highly automatable but in Norway on the other extreme only 6 percent of jobs are such.
The report says: “More generally, jobs in Anglo-Saxon, Nordic countries and the Netherlands are less automatable than jobs in Eastern European countries, South European countries, Germany, Chile and Japan.”
The UK was identified in the report as being one of the countries least affected by automation. However, the UK still had one in ten jobs that were at high risk and a quarter of all jobs could be significantly changed.
Sectors most affected by automation
Most subject to further automation were jobs in the manufacturing industry and agriculture. However, service sectors such as postal and courier services, land transport, and food services are also highly vulnerable.
Outlook not as bad in US as 2013 study indicated
A 2013 study had predicted that 47 percent of US jobs were at risk. While that is much too high an estimate according to the new report it is still expected that 13 million jobs will be lost in the US. The report suggests that in some local economies the impact will be greater than the effect the decline of the car industry had on Detroit.
Estimates of how many jobs in the US are at risk vary greatly. The enclosed video claims that 80 million jobs are at risk, more than the OECD estimates for 32 countries. Other sources vary greatly as well. What is not in doubt is that a significant number of jobs will be replaced by AI and automation.
Who is most at risk?
Workers with low skills and young workers were most at risk the report claims. Jobs with the highest risk were in low-skill sectors such as food preparation, cleaning, and labouring jobs. Those most at risk also were less likely to participate in formal education or distance learning. The report states: “The risk of automation is not distributed equally among workers [...] Occupations with the highest estimated automatability typically only require basic to low level of education.”
The report emphasizes the need for young workers to gain work experience while they study. It also stressed the need for retraining and social protection for workers for those at high risk of seeing their jobs disappear or significantly reduced.
The report said: “In parallel, the large share of workers whose jobs are likely to change quite significantly as a result of automation calls for countries to strengthen their adult learning policies to prepare their workforce for the changes in job requirements they are likely to face."
A description of the nature of the report's analysis can be found here.
It should be noted that automation also produces many new jobs often well paid in order to produce software, automated devices, and repair them.
More about OECD, Robots, jobs loss to robots
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