Procurement · 13 November 2015

Bank of England economist: 15m British jobs could go to robots in the next 20 years

Robots could replace accountants and salespeople in the next 20 years
Robots could replace accountants and salespeople in the next 20 years
The Bank of England’s chief economist has warned that up to 15m jobs in Britain are at risk of being takenby robots.

Andy Haldane said automation effectively posed a risk to nearly half of those employed within the UK as there are currently 33.7m jobs in the UK. Haldane thinks a third machine age? could see the labour market hollowed out? as well as a widening chasm between rich and poor.

In the US, Haldane estimated up to 80m jobs were also at risk of automation.

The new generation of increasingly sophisticated models could replace jobs considered at risk? over the next 20 years, such as accountants and sales people.

Occupations most at risk included administrative, clerical and production tasks? he said, adding that those at most risk from automation tend, on average, to have the lowest wage.

Speaking at Trades Union Congress in London, Haldane said that ongoing rapid technological improvements made it risky? to raise the Bank’s interest rates from their historical lows of 0.5 per cent.

He also warned that it was a fallacy? to assume that the totally number of jobs in the economy was fixed, with historical evidence indicating that automation could also create new job opportunities.

there is essentially no evidence to suggest technology has damaged jobs and plenty to suggest it has boosted wages, he said.

Haldane warned this time could be different because middle income jobs could be hollowed out by the rise of machines, leaving only low-paid and high-paid jobs. The growing use of intelligent robots could act like a regressive income tax on the unskilled? which could then result in inequality rising.

technology appears to be resulting in faster, wider and deeper degrees of hollowing out than in the past, he said, with robots now also moving into spaces that previously required thinking and creativity not just manual tasks.

Humans may stay ahead in jobs that need high-level reasoning? such as the use of imagination, and those involving empathy such as childcare or care of the elderly.



Rebecca is a reporter for Business Advice. Prior to this, she worked with a range of tech, advertising, media and digital clients at Propeller PR and did freelance work for The Telegraph.

HR & Employment