One in seven employees at risk of being replaced by machines

One in seven employees at risk of being replaced by machines

The leading think tank in the west, the Paris based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has warned its members that they are failing to prepare their workers for the rise in automation that will leave approximately 66 million people at risk of being replaced by robots or other machinery in the coming years.

The report, published earlier this year says that 14% of jobs in developed countries were classed as being highly automatable while a further 32% of jobs were classified as being likely to experience significant changes to the way that they were carried out.

The report highlights that some member states of the OECD were far more vulnerable than others to seeing jobs replaced by robots, algorithms and computers. The report says:

“There are significant differences across countries: 33% of all jobs in Slovakia are highly automatable, while this is only the case with 6% of the jobs in Norway. 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 oncoming rise in automation is most likely to affect jobs in manufacturing and agriculture, although a number of other services sectors are also highly vulnerable, such as food and postal services as well as courier services and land transport.

The report suggests that up to 13 million American jobs could be lost due to automation, warning that the impact of this on some local economies could be far worse and far more damaging than the impact on Detroit of the decline of the car industry.

The solution to the rise in automation is complex says the study. One area to concentrate on is the need to help young people obtain work experience while studying, and the report highlights the importance of retraining and social protection for those who were at risk of seeing their job restructured or significantly downsized.

It also highlights the need to improve adult learning policies to prepare the workforce:

“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,” the report said.

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