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Automation likely to displace hundreds of thousands of workers: Report

Automation likely to displace hundreds of thousands of workers: Report 

By the hundreds of thousands or even more globally, if we are to base our estimates on a recent report from a recent United Kingdom-based think tank which estimates that almost 250,000 public sector workers will lose their jobs over the next fifteen years due to automation.

The right-of-centre organization, Reform, predicts that Web sites and so-called “chat bots” powered by artificial intelligence will replace as much as 90 per cent of public administrators and tens of thousands of tens of thousands of National Heal Services (NHS) employees, general practitioners, police, and others in the U.K. by 2030. Of course, such a massive job cut will result in savings of as much as $6.5 billion a year.

“In the future, a less hierarchical model, which exploits advances in technology, will help managers develop a leaner and better performing workforce,” authors of the report titled Work in Progress. Towards a leaner, smarter public-sector workforce, wrote. “… Current pressures mean the public-sector workforce must undergo radical change to deliver better value for money.”

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The authors of the report argue that the public sector workforce is tied to a structure that has been developed in the 1960s and needs to undergo a radical change in order to become more efficient and economical to meet the 21st century needs of citizens.

“Tight public spending means that public sector productivity must break from its 20-year trend of near-zero growth,” the report said. “…An aging population, with increased prevalence of chronic conditions, requires new ways of delivering health and social care.”

They also said automation can be more effective in dealing with the growing number of cybercrimes which are rapidly catching up with traditional crimes.

The report cited several studies tracking automation trends and recent moves by a number of government services to automate.

For example, the HM Revenue and Customs has cut its administrative staff from 96,000 to 60,000 over the last decade with the use of online services that provide real-time information. The agency aims to cut another 11,000 jobs in the near future.

Analysis by Oxford academics Frey and Osborne indicate that many routine administrative roles have a 96 per cent chance of being automated by current technology. Applying their calculations to current public-sector numbers, authors of the report estimate that within 10 to 15 years, central government departments could further reduce headcount by 131,962, “saving £2.6 billion from the 2016-17 wage bill.”

“In primary care, a pioneering GP (general practitioners) provider interviewed for this paper has a clinician-to-receptionist ratio of 5:1, suggesting a potential reduction of 24,000 roles across the NHS from the 2015 total. In total this would result in 248,860 administrative roles being replaced by technology,” the authors said. “…McKinsey estimates that 30 per cent of nurses’ activities could be automated, and a similar proportion of doctors in some specialties, enabling those skilled practitioners to focus on their non-automatable skills.”

Top 5 Canadian jobs likely to be replaced by machines

Advancements in artificial intelligence are continually pushing robotic technologies into the realm of non-repetitive and more cognitive occupations.

Last year, the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship at Toronto’s Ryerson University reported that more than 40 per cent of Canadian workers are at risk of being replaced by technology.

According to the report, the top five occupations with the highest risk of being automated are:

  • Retail salesperson.
  • Administrative assistant.
  • Food counter attendant.
  • Cashier.
  • Transport truck driver.

According to the Institute, these jobs has a 70 per cent risk of being impacted by automation over the next 10 to 20 years.

Workers that already earn less and have lower education levels compared to the rest of the Canadian workforce are most likely to lose their jobs, according to the institute.

Top 5 low-risk Canadian jobs

There’s a bit of a silver lining.

According to the report of the Brookfield Institute, there are some occupations that have a low risk of being replaced by automation. The institute forecasted that almost 712,000 new jobs in these areas will be produced by between 2014 and 2024. High-risk occupations are expected to grow by 396,000 over the same period.

Low-risk jobs tend to be occupations that are less routine and require a large amount of human interaction.

The top 5 low-risk jobs in Canada are:

  • Retail and wholesale trade managers.
  • Registered nurses.
  • Elementary and kindergarten teacher.
  • Early childhood educators and assistant.
  • Secondary school teachers.

According to the institute, Ontario has the lowest proportion (41.1 per cent) of high-risk jobs. Prince Edward Island has the highest (45 per cent) proportion of high-risk jobs.

For the full copy of the Reform report, click on this link.

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