Quar­ter of young work­ers’ jobs may van­ish

Au­toma­tion could mean staff cuts for thou­sands

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - MARK CASCI BUSI­NESS EDITOR Email: mark.casci@ypn.co.uk Twit­ter: @MarkCasci

AL­MOST 28 per cent of young work­ers’ jobs could be at risk of be­ing lost due to au­toma­tion in the next 15 years, it is claimed to­day.

The claim is made in the an­nual PwC’s Young Work­ers In­dex pub­lished to­day and shows the UK to have reached its high­est ever po­si­tion, in 18th out of 35 coun­tries in the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion and Devel­op­ment.

It says that while new tech­nolo­gies will cre­ate many new jobs, ed­u­cat­ing and train­ing young peo­ple to en­able them to move flex­i­bly be­tween ca­reers as tech­nol­ogy evolves will be crit­i­cal.

The risks of au­toma­tion ap­pears to be high­est for young men with lower lev­els of ed­u­ca­tion, par­tic­u­larly in sec­tors such as trans­port, man­u­fac­tur­ing and re­tail.

The risk will be felt across the world, with many lead­ing na­tions see­ing a far higher risk.

In Amer­ica, the fig­ure is 39 per cent while in Ger­many it is 38 per cent.

John Hawksworth, chief econ­o­mist at PwC UK, said: “Em­pow­er­ing young work­ers to suc­ceed in an in­creas­ingly au­to­mated world will be cru­cial to the longterm suc­cess of the UK econ­omy.

“The gov­ern­ment has al­ready taken pos­i­tive steps in re­cent years with ini­tia­tives to boost vo­ca­tional train­ing and ap­pren­tice­ships, but an in­creased fo­cus on STEM skills will help to close the tech­nol­ogy gap with lead­ing in­ter­na­tional economies and max­imise the eco­nomic and em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits of au­toma­tion.”

This year the UK reached its high­est po­si­tion since the in­dex be­gan in 2006, climb­ing to 18th out of 35 OECD coun­tries from 20th last year.

The UK’s im­prove­ment re­flects lower youth un­em­ploy­ment and NEET rates as the eco­nomic re­cov­ery from the fi­nan­cial cri­sis has con­tin­ued, but it still lags be­hind many other OECD coun­tries, with Switzer­land, Ice­land and Ger­many lead­ing the pack.

Cur­rently, nearly a quar­ter of 16 to 24 year-olds (24 per cent) in the UK are em­ployed in the whole­sale and re­tail jobs sec­tor where the po­ten­tial risk of au­toma­tion could be as high as 44 per cent.

Work­ers within this sec­tor also tend to have lower ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment and qual­i­fi­ca­tions, po­ten­tially lim­it­ing their abil­ity to move flex­i­bly be­tween in­dus­tries and into new jobs in re­sponse to au­toma­tion.

Trans­port and man­u­fac­tur­ing are other sec­tors fac­ing high risks of au­toma­tion, par­tic­u­larly for male work­ers with lower ed­u­ca­tion lev­els.

In con­trast, PwC anal­y­sis finds only around 5 per cent of young peo­ple are em­ployed in in­dus­tries with a high re­quire­ment for sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics (STEM) skills, which could be long term ben­e­fi­cia­ries of new dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies such as AI and ro­bot­ics.

Jon An­drews, head of tech­nol­ogy and in­vest­ment at PwC UK, said: “As new tech­nol­ogy ad­vances bring in­no­va­tion we need to be care­ful that the im­pact of this is pro­gres­sive and does not cre­ate bar­ri­ers.

“Busi­nesses have a crit­i­cal role to play in cre­at­ing the jobs and help­ing the UK work­force build the skills of the fu­ture.”

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