The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released a report indicating that millions of job tasks done worldwide could be carried out by some type of machine by 2025.
WEF’s Future of Jobs Report 2020 says that machines could ‘eliminate’ around 85 million jobs usually carried out by workers and suggests the reskilling of staff to ensure they are prepared for the future of work.
Responding to the WEF, 43% of the 300 firms surveyed said they may cut future jobs due to increased use of technology, while more than 50% said they expected to speed up the automation of roles in their businesses.
The rapid pace of digitisation in the workplace is also likely to increase inequality, the report states, with jobs held by lower-wage staff, women and younger workers being “more deeply impacted in the first phase of the economic contraction”.
WEF’s report also considers the impact of Covid-19 on the world economy, stating that automation, in tandem with the Covid-19 recession, is “creating a ‘double-disruption’ scenario for workers”.
Evidence shows that the pace of new tech adoption had increased during the pandemic as firms looked to cut costs and adopt new ways of working.
Speaking on the report, Saadia Zahidi, managing director of the World Economic Forum, told CNBC: “There has been a slowdown in the rate of job creation. That is not a surprise given the lockdowns that have been underway and the recession that has followed.
“But at the same time, if we look at the projections that heads of HR and those at the frontlines of making these decisions are saying, we find overall the rate of job creation will still surpass the rate of job destruction.”
However, Zahidi says that existing inequalities across labour markets have also been deepened by the crisis. and “reversed gains” in employment made since the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
“It’s a double disruption scenario that presents another hurdle for workers in this difficult time. The window of opportunity for proactive management of this change is closing fast,” she said.
Despite this, the report suggests that a “robot revolution” has the potential to also create around 97 million jobs worldwide, boosting the jobs market by 12 million.
In response the WEF suggests that firms must increase the training and reskilling of their workforce, and “place equity and diversity at the heart of their talent ecosystem,” ensuring that employees “believe in their capacity to prosper based on merit”.
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This is not the first time that concerns over the increased use of robotics and job losses have been raised by critics. In June last year, Amazon bosses came out to disprove robots were taking people’s jobs.
At the time, Amazon’s chief robotics technologist, Tye Brady, said that he believes humans and robots should work together, rather than one replacing the other.
He commented: “The way I think about this is a symphony of humans and machines working together – you need both.
“The challenge that we have in front of us is how do we smartly design our machines to extend human capability?” he said.