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The march of automation: Which roles will be disrupted the most?

France came in first as the country that will be impacted the most by 2030, with 2,221,374 roles impacted.

Stacker assessed the current state of AI, from predictive models to learning algorithms, and identified the capabilities and limitations of automation in various settings.
Stacker assessed the current state of AI, from predictive models to learning algorithms, and identified the capabilities and limitations of automation in various settings. - Canva
Stacker assessed the current state of AI, from predictive models to learning algorithms, and identified the capabilities and limitations of automation in various settings. - Canva

When it comes to the future of the workplace, developments in automation mean that the future landscape of work is changing and, in turn, the roles that many people commonly undertake. Automation describes a wide range of technologies that reduce human intervention in processes.

Many people fear that this contributes to a decrease in employment. However, not all sectors are impacted, and many industries continue to grow and adapt despite automation.

In other cases, for those workers who are retained, the implementation of automation can mean, in some instances this can improve their work-life balance, such as allowing manual workers to work normal shifts and robots to work overnight or to remove the menial tasks from a given role and retrain to complete tasks that cannot be automated. 

The company Distrelec has analysed the European countries where workplaces will be affected the most by increasing automation, alongside the job roles where automation will impact continued growth by 2030.

From this review, France came in first as the country that will be impacted the most by 2030, with 2,221,374 roles impacted in 2020 and 2,285,980 impacted in 2030 (a difference of 64,633 roles). 

Research from France shows that when analysing employment data from over 55,000 manufacturing firms, productivity was shown to have increased per individual in the firms adopting automation, however, there was also a reduction in the workforce. But, due to the improved productivity and relative cost reductions, overall employment at these companies actually increased. 

The study also found that those companies that did not adopt automation saw a reduction in employment that was directly driven by increased relative costs and productivity, and a reduction in the market share.

Job Roles Expected to Be Impacted the Most by Automation in 2030

Job RoleTotal Number of Roles: 2020Total Number of Roles: 2030 (Projected)Roles Predicted to be Impacted by AutomationPercentage of Roles Automated by 2030
Office Professionals560,742.00639,806.5779,064.577%
Researchers and Engineers520,712.00597,777.2977,065.298%
Construction Workers1,181,248.001,255,666.5574,418.5516%
Office Associate Professionals669,865.00728,813.1658,948.165%
Legal and Social Associate Professionals164,835.00217,582.2052,747.205%

In the face of automation, several industries are projected to grow, with the number of legal and social associate professionals predicted to grow 32 percent, customer clerks to grow 20 percent, and business managers to grow 18 percent.

Furthermore, the trends suggest that office professionals are in first place for the biggest increase in roles impacted by automation. Based on 2020 figures, though just 7 percent of employees within the sector are expected to be impacted by automation, the industry is projected to grow by 14.1 percent by 2030. This will contribute to an additional 79,065 roles affected.

In second place are engineers. Here, 8 percent of employees in this sector have been affected by automation in 2020 and the industry is set to grow by 14.8 percent. This means that there will be an increase of 77,065 roles automation could have an impact on by 2030.

​​On the lower end of the spectrum but still falling within the top 5, roles like construction work are predicted to increase by 6.3 percent despite having had a 16 percent employee share of roles at risk of automation in 2020, resulting in 74,418 roles expected to be impacted within the next 7 years. 

Other roles found in the top ten for the biggest increase in those impacted by automation by 2030 include legal professionals, technical labourers, sales workers, health professionals, teaching professionals, and cleaners.  

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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