Automation isn’t a new phenomenon.
In the 19th century the Industrial Revolution saw many people move from rural locations to cities as automation decimated traditional jobs.
In the 20th century a similar issue arose when car manufacturers automated the production process.
Welders and painters were part of the assembly line and were comparatively easy to replace with robotic machines.
Today, a new form of automation is taking over. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is perhaps the biggest threat to jobs.
Machine learning and continued robotic process automation also place workers at risk.
It leaves many people wondering how many jobs will be lost to automation in the coming years?
How Many Jobs Will be Lost To Automation in 2023?
It’s impossible to say for certain. However, experts estimate that as much as one-third of the working population will be affected by the current automation.
That’s as many as 375 million jobs lost across the globe between now and 2030.
The people most at risk are those who have minimal educational qualifications.
Estimates suggest having a college degree will decrease the likelihood of job loss by 21%.
Let’s take a look at some of the facts.
There are currently more than 4 million robots working within industry. They perform simple tasks more efficiently and accurately than humans.
After all, robots don’t get tired or bored. These are the jobs most at risk.
Currently 1.7 million manufacturing jobs have been lost to automation. The process is like a snowball going downhill, gradually getting larger and faster.
Automation is likely to cause 85 million people to lose their jobs in the next two years. This is thanks to businesses using smart machines instead of people.
The scale of jobs being lost is likely to grow rapidly as labor costs continue to increase while robots are becoming cheaper.
It’s Not All Bad News
Unemployment rates constantly fluctuate. All the jobs lost in the 19th and 20th centuries didn’t result in a huge increase in unemployment.
It certainly never reached the proportions of the Great Depression in the 1930s.
In many cases, automation brings new jobs. For example, the manufacturing industry has experienced a growth in production of 20% since 1980.
It’s also seen a decline in job opportunities by 3%.
In figures, the manufacturing industry has lost 1.7 million jobs in the last 20 years. That rate is set to increase rapidly as robot automation continues.
One of the biggest growth sectors has, unsurprisingly, been technology. As manufacturing improved efficiency, workers have retrained and embraced the digital era.
Programmers and other technology-based jobs have become more popular.
Of course, this time people may not be able to move into technology to create jobs. After all, it’s technology that is decreasing the need for specific roles.
In 2015 there were 254,000 industrial robots. By 2021 that figure had jumped to 517,000. That’s over double and that’s in just six years.
With these types of figures it seems likely that, by 2030, robots in production will reach over 1 million.
Certain roles are more at risk than others:
- Food preparation
- Insurance Underwriters
- Tax technicians
- Photographic workers
There are jobs that involve social skills and focus on developing relationships. These are much less likely to be automated:
- Mechanical supervisors
- Healthcare workers
- Mental health workers
Anyone facing job loss will be suffering from increased anxiety.
But, it’s not just job loss that is an issue. Estimates suggest 32% of current jobs will be significantly different thanks to automation.
The worker will still have a job but it will be a very different role.
The biggest effect will, once again, be felt in the manufacturing industry.
There are plenty of reasons for the average worker to be anxious. 82.3% of industrial robots are currently functioning in the manufacturing industry.
The automotive industry is a key manufacturing industry at risk with 38% of the manufacturing robots working on vehicles.
As with the previous automations, job losses will be partially counteracted by new job opportunities. In the US, research suggests that job loss will hit 73 million by 2030.
However, the automation process and advancements in technology are likely to create 58 million jobs.
That’s better than 73 million people losing their job. But, that still leaves an additional 15 million unemployed.
It’s worth noting that new robot installations in the US and Europe are at much lower rates than in Asia.
China installed 268,000 industrial robots in 2021, the US installed just 35,000.
Worryingly, 1.6 manufacturing jobs are lost every time a robot is added to the production process.
Who Will Be Most Affected?
Workers aged between 18-24 are most likely to be working a role that can be easily automated.
That puts this age group at high risk of job losses and is the reason why 37% of Americans in this age range are anxious about automation.
It’s also estimated that women will be affected more than men. Estimates suggest as many as 70% of automated jobs are currently being performed by women.
That’s waitresses, shelf-stackers, cashiers, and bar staff.
There is little doubt that living in the modern digital age brings an array of rewards.
Automation has helped to improve the quality of life for many people.
However, automation is certainly going to cause the loss of numerous jobs and that places high levels of stress on many people.
In most cases, the individuals need additional training to undertake higher-skilled roles.
That’s not something that most people can afford or have the time for.
In short, millions of workers are at the mercy of automation and don’t currently have the means to prepare for different roles.
It’s the 40% of workers with low-level education that need help today to avoid being a statistic of the future.