Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related technologies are likely to create as many jobs as they displace in the UK over the next 20 years, according to a recent analysis by PwC.
The professional services firm estimates that around 7 million existing jobs could vanish as a result of AI, robots and related technologies, but around 7.2 million could be created.
Yet while the overall net effect on UK jobs may be broadly neutral, the impact varies significantly across industry sectors. And a separate report raises concerns about the potential impact of automation on older employees.
The convergence of an ageing global population with workplace automation is expected to have significant economic and societal consequences, according to The Twin Threats of Aging and Automation, from Marsh & McLennan Companies’ Global Risk Center.
Moves to adopt intelligent technologies could disproportionately impact older workers, leading to unemployment, widening inequality and greater strain on safety nets, explained Axel Miller, Oliver Wyman partner and co-author of the report.
“Even as older workers in ageing nations are willing and able to engage in meaningful work, those skilled in the ‘yesterday’ work environment might be at risk of being excluded from the economy of tomorrow,” Miller warned.
The report found that most of the countries analysed have older-worker populations doing jobs where 50% or more of their tasks can be automated, highlighting the acute vulnerability of older workers to automation.
What’s more, older workers tend to face unique difficulties in the labour market, such as high long-term unemployment and age discrimination, putting them at greater risk of displacement by new technologies.
“Governments and companies should not – and cannot – ignore older workers, and need plans that address older workers in addition to their larger digital strategies,” said Patty Sung, a principal with Mercer and co-author of the report.