A ‘robot revolution’ is underway and could lead to half of all jobs being done by machines by 2025, according to forecasters.
The World Economic Forum has said that 97 million new jobs are set to be created by increased automation of manual and routine labour in several major industries.
But they’ve warned that just as many jobs will be lost, and that the trend could worsen inequality in poorer communities as humans lose out to machines in the workplace.
The WEF report conducted research looking at 300 of the world’s largest companies, which collectively employ over 8 million people globally.
According to the report, 50% of employers said they expected automation of work to speed up over the next few years, with 25% saying it was likely that they would cut jobs as technology becomes more efficient.
Currently, machines do roughly a third of all work, but the balance is steadily shifting. Labour activists have warned for years that increasing reliance on automated work will disproportionately effect lower-income workers, and have pushed for companies and governments to retrain workers whose jobs may be at threat.
The WEF has also said that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may be accelerating the move to automated labour.
Saadia Zahidi, managing director at WEF told BBC News:
[These things have] deepened existing inequalities across labour markets and reversed gains in employment made since the global financial crisis in 2007-2008.
It’s a double disruption scenario that presents another hurdle for workers in this difficult time. The window of opportunity for proactive management of this change is closing fast.
There is some good news, though. The recent push for climate friendly policies looks set to cause a surge in demand for workers to fill ‘green economy’ jobs. So maybe robots won’t replace us entirely just yet.
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