Automation to wipe out a third of London jobs
The increasing impact of digital disruption on London’s workforce will not only hit low or medium-skilled workers, but also higher skilled jobs including financial and professional roles, warns EY’s London senior partner Caroline Artis.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution marks a significant change in the way we work. The challenge for government, business and society is to find new ways of thinking and acting as technology and innovation continues to disrupt our world.
A new report, Human Capital: disruption, opportunity and resilience in London’s workforce, a Centre for London initiative produced in association with EY, investigates the impact that automation, Brexit and wage pressures will have on London’s workforce over the next 20 years.
The report has found that almost a third of London jobs have high potential for automation over this period. The impact is likely to be highest for low- and medium-skilled workers, particularly in sectors such as wholesale and retail, transportation and storage, and accommodation and food sectors, which together employ around one million workers.
But London’s higher skilled jobs will be increasingly affected, with more complex routine jobs being taken on by AI, including financial and professional roles.
However, the report also demonstrates that London’s economy and its workers are well placed to adapt to change, with high skill levels, strong specialist sectors, and new jobs likely to be created in IT, manufacturing, education and health. London’s specialist sectors (including information and communication, financial and insurance services, arts, entertainment and recreation, and professional and technical services) which employ 1.8 million people are relatively resilient to automation owing to the creative and social intelligence skills required.
As the world adjusts to the digital age, workers will increasingly be freed up from repetitive tasks and can explore the attributes that make us human. These human attributes, including lateral thinking, creativity, decision-making, innovation, intuition and empathy, will become more important as the balance of machines and humans in the workplace shifts.
Adapting to the challenges of digital disruption requires changes to current ways of working, but the disruption of business models is hardly new. What is considered new ground is how technological change will create new enterprise and employment opportunities.
London’s well-qualified workforce, its areas of economic specialism and its global character should enable the city to take advantage of these opportunities.
Caroline Artis is Senior London Partner at EY
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