Audit and assurance, consulting and tax services company PwC, has identified three waves of automation from now and the mid-2030’s and how it will impact jobs. The overlapping waves of automation are the algorithm wave, augmentation wave and autonomy wave, the impacts of which are examined in a new report published by PwC.

The research was conducted to analyse the tasks and skills involved in the jobs of over 200,000 workers across 29 countries in order to assess the potential impact of automation on workers in different industry sectors and of different genders, ages and education levels.

On average, the share of jobs at potential high risk of automation is estimated to be only around three per cent by the early 2020’s, but this rises to almost 20 per cent by the late 2020’s, and around 30 per cent by the mid-2030’s. The transport and manufacturing sectors have relatively high potential for job automation by the 2030’s, while health and education are less automatable.

Education is a key factor driving risk of automation, with less well educated men at highest risk in the long run, while women could be at a higher risk over the next five to 10 years, for example, in clerical roles.

Automation rates differ across countries because the ways of working differ. Workers in countries like Singapore and South Korea with more stringent educational requirements could have greater protection against automation in the long run. This is also true (particularly in Europe) for countries with higher levels of education spending as a percentage of GDP.

“Our analysis highlights the need for increased public and private investment in education and skills to help people adapt to technological change throughout their careers,” said John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC. “Increased training in digital skills and STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is one important element in this. “Retraining is also required to help displaced workers to take jobs in the services sector where demand is high but automation is less easy due to the importance of social skills and the human touch,” he added.



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