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Technology threatens 1 in 3 UK jobs

A recent report conducted by Oxford University revealed that 35% jobs could be replaced by technology in the next twenty years. So could the world once envisaged by H.G Wells become a reality in the not-too distant future? Possibly…

The report, commissioned by Deloitte and conducted by Oxford University, found that jobs with repetitive duties, such as those in administrative support, sales production and construction, were defined as ‘high risk’ and those most likely to be replaced by automated devices.

By contrast, the report also found that 40% of UK jobs in financial services, computing, engineering and science, education, legal services, and healthcare were regarded as low risk or of no risk at all.

The report detailed that roles paying less than £30,000 a year are nearly five times more likely to be replaced by automation than jobs paying over £100,000. The trends, according to the report authors, are already “well under way.” So should we be afraid (very afraid)?

Ever since the dawn of the industrial age, the arrival of new technology has altered the status quo of the workplace at that time. When the Spinning Jenny was introduced in 1764, for example, its impact on jobs was felt immediately and even caused a riot in some parts of Yorkshire.

But where technology takes over one role, another emerges – just look at the number of new job types the modern computer has created in the last twenty years alone. Whilst certain traditional clerical roles may seem to be on their way out, a vast number of new opportunities are being created alongside new technologies.

Angus Knowles-Cutler, London senior partner at Deloitte, said: Technological advances are likely to cause a major shift in the UK labour market in the coming decades, creating both challenges and opportunities.

He went on to urge businesses, policy makers and educators to fully anticipate the likely changes to the work place in order to bypass “avoidable unemployment and under-employment.”
So how will the contractor and permanent employment landscape look in the next twenty years? No one can predict the future with any degree of certainty, but we can at least point to recent research into employee hiring intentions over the next 5 years.

In London alone, 73% of businesses plan to increase overall headcount; additionally 51% say that they will increase their workforce by at least 10%. Rapid development in technology and use of new systems in the workplace indicate a significant shift in job types, with clerical and support services being replaced with roles requiring digital, management and creative skills.

Roles involving data protection, social media and cyber security are now in high demand – therefore whilst the door on administration may be closing, pathways to new pastures are fast becoming available to those willing to take on new challenges.

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