Robots to make 5m jobless by 2020

Published January 19, 2016

DAVOS: Disruptive labour market changes, including the rise of robots and artificial intelligence, will result in a net loss of 5.1 million jobs over the next five years in 15 leading countries, according to an analysis published in Davos on Monday.

The projection by the World Economic Forum (WEF), which is holding its annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort this week, assumes a total loss of 7.1m jobs, offset by a gain of 2m new positions. The 15 economies covered by the survey account for approximately 65 per cent of the world’s total workforce.

The assessment highlights the challenges posed by modern technologies that are automating and making redundant multiple human tasks, from manufacturing to healthcare.

With the International Labour Organisation, part of the United Nations, already forecasting an increase in global unemployment of 11m by 2020, the size of the additional job losses is sobering.

Two-thirds of the projected losses are expected to fall in the office and administrative sectors as smart machines take over more routine tasks, according to latest findings, which are based on a global survey of personnel and strategy executives.

The WEF has made “the fourth industrial revolution” — a topic covering robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and biotechnology — the official theme of this year’s Davos meeting, which runs from Jan 20 to 23.

The “Future of Jobs” report concluded that jobs would be displaced in every industry, although the impact would vary considerably, with the biggest negative losses likely to be in healthcare, reflecting the rise of telemedicine, followed by energy and financial services.

At the same time, however, there will be a growing demand for certain skilled workers, including data analysts and specialist sales representatives.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2016

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