How many jobs will the robots take?

Recent report discusses the potential impact of automation on the global workforce

Much is often said about the impact that automation will have in the world of work. The concern that robots will displace people as employees is a real one. There has already been an increase in robotic production within the automotive, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. According to a new report by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), the total number of jobs lost globally, as a result of automation, could reach as many as 800 million by the year.2030,


The report titled “Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation,” states that as much as 30 percent of work done globally could be automated over the next 13 years.  The jobs most susceptible to automation include physical ones in predictable environments, including occupations that involve operating machinery, preparing fast food, or installations and repairs. That said, office support jobs including information clerks, payroll processors and administrative assistants are also at risk, as are some customer interaction jobs such hotel workers, travel agents, entertainment attendants and cafeteria workers.


In our prior report on automation, we found that about half the activities people are paid to do globally could theoretically be automated using currently demonstrated technologies.Very few occupations—less than 5 percent—consist entirely of activities that can be fully automated. However, in about 60 percent of occupations, at least one-third of the constituent activities could be automated, implying substantial workplace transformations and changes for all workers


However, even if a task can be automated, that doesn’t mean it will happen overnight. Barriers to adopting new technology include the high cost, as well as the response from clients who are accustomed to interacting with humans.


Meanwhile, the study also finds that automation will eventually give rise to new jobs, suggesting that there are several trends that may serve as catalysts for future labour. These trends include caring for others in ageing societies, raising energy efficiency and meeting climate challenges, producing goods and services for the expanding consuming class, especially in developing countries, not to mention the investment in technology, infrastructure, and buildings needed in all countries.