One in seven workers to lose their jobs to automation, OECD warns

Ireland identified as one of the countries that would be less affected by automation

The OECD’s report says has been considerable  debate about the extent of job destruction, and whether automation and digitalisation are leading to mass technological unemployment

The OECD’s report says has been considerable debate about the extent of job destruction, and whether automation and digitalisation are leading to mass technological unemployment

 

One in seven workers in advanced economies are likely to lose their jobs to automation in the coming years, the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has warned.

While this is fewer than previously thought, it amounts to 66 million workers across the 32 developed economies of the OECD.

Overall, it said 14 per cent of jobs in developed countries were highly automatable, while a further 32 per cent of jobs were likely to experience significant changes to the way they were carried out.

Automation is more likely to affect jobs in the manufacturing industry and agriculture, although a number of service sectors, such as postal and courier services, land transport and food services are also thought to be highly vulnerable, the think tank said .

Ireland was identified by the OECD as one of the countries that would be less affected by automation. However, within this it predicted that a slightly higher number of workers here – one in six –were at high risk from automation while slightly less would experience significant change.

The OECD’s report noted there has been considerable public debate about the extent of job destruction, and whether automation and digitalisation are leading to mass technological unemployment, in which many jobs will be done by computers and robots.

Medical diagnosis

“This is fuelled by the perception that technological change is faster paced and broader based than in the past, making many more jobs automatable than previously thought,” it said.

“While only 15 years ago computers performed poorly in non-routine cognitive and manual tasks, cutting-edge technologies now open the possibility for tasks as diverse as medical diagnosis, insurance brokerage and driving to be automated.”

The report noted some states were far more vulnerable than others to seeing jobs replaced by computers or algorithms.

“There are significant differences across countries: 33 per cent of all jobs in Slovakia are highly automatable, while this is only the case with 6 per cent of the jobs in Norway.

“More generally, jobs in Anglo-Saxon, Nordic countries and the Netherlands are less automatable than jobs in eastern European countries, south European countries, Germany, Chile and Japan. ”