Robots will put up to 800 million people out of a job by 2030 -- and the problem will be worst in rich countries

  • Robots and automation will put a huge proportion of the global population out of a job by 2030 – and the problem will be worse in developed nations.
  • Jobs that involve repetitive tasks, data, and fewer skills will be the most impacted.
  • Wealthier nations with more to spend on robots will be hit hardest.
  • The good news is that there’ll be enough jobs for workers who are willing or able to retrain in jobs such as care for old people.

Robots and automation will cause a major economic shift over the next 13 years, putting up to 800 million people out of a job by 2030, according to a new report from McKinsey.

The UN estimates that the global population will have reached about 8.5 billion by 2030, meaning robots displace about 10% of the future population from their occupations.

The McKinsey study covered 46 countries and 800 occupations, and found the extent of the impact really depends on where you are.

Wealthier nations like Japan, South Korea, the US, and the UK have more money to spend on automation, and therefore their workers will be most impacted. Poorer nations like India won’t have the money to spend on automation, therefore jobs for humans will actually grow.

The type of job affected also varies – automation won’t just affect low-paid, low-skill jobs. If the work involves repetitive tasks and data, it’s vulnerable to automation too – as evidenced by artificial intelligence taking over some of the tasks traditionally done by junior lawyers.

Specialised, low-wage jobs will still require humans too.

Here are the jobs that will be most affected by automation in developed countries:

  • Machine and building equipment operators
  • Dish washers in restaurants
  • Food preparation workers
  • Office staff like payroll managers and clerical workers
  • Waiters

Here are the jobs that will be least affected in developed economies:

  • Health workers, such as doctors, nurses, and childcare staff
  • Computer engineers
  • Construction workers
  • School teachers

The good news is, McKinsey predicts there’ll still be enough jobs to go around. Anyone displaced by robots though will have to quickly learn new skills. Somewhere like Japan, for example, there’ll be higher demand for care workers to look after its rapidly ageing population.

According to the report, one third of the US workforce in 2030 will need to find a new job, and about half the workforce in Japan.

About 20% of UK jobs will be “displaced” by automated technologies.

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