Automation Could Displace 800 Million Workers Worldwide By 2030, Study Says

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The automation industry could force 400 million to 800 million people worldwide out of a job in next 13 years, according to a study.

Automation May Result in Displacing 800 Million Workers Worldwide

According to a research study conducted by consulting firm McKinsey & Company forecasts scenarios in which 3 percent to 14 percent of workers around the world will have to acquire new skills to switch occupations by 2030.

There are few precedents” to the challenge of retraining hundreds of millions of workers in the middle of their careers, the report’s authors say.

The impact will vary between countries, depending on their wealth and types of jobs that currently exist in each. In 60 percent of jobs worldwide, “at least one-third of the constituent activities could be automated,” McKinsey says, which would mean a significant change in what people do day-to-day.

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McKinsey researched at 46 countries and 800 different jobs in its research.

In the year 2030 in countries with “advanced economies,” a more significant proportion of workers will need to learn new skills than in developing economies, researchers say. As many as a third of workers in the U.S. and Germany could need to learn new skills. For Japan, the number is almost 50 percent of the workforce, while in China it’s 12 percent.

Those jobs which involve predictable, repetitive tasks are more easily automated, “such as operating machinery and preparing fast food,” and data processing. However, less than 5 percent of the jobs can be fully automated according to McKinsey’s estimates.

Those jobs which pay “lower wages” and are not much predictable have fewer chances to be fully automated because business won’t spend money to automate such jobs. It is applied to jobs like Plumbing, Gardening and Child Care.

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Occupations that pay more but involve managing people and social interactions face less risk of automation due to the inherent difficulty in programming machines to do those types of tasks.

In short, the report says, the automation and new technology could result in “significant” displacement of workers. But the authors argue that in the long term as technology has changed, “it creates a multitude of new jobs, more than offsetting” the number of those lost.

They note, however, those new jobs don’t always pay as much as the old ones.

Tech jobs will be needed as technology advances, like “computer scientists, engineers and IT administrators,” who could see job growth as companies spend more in this area, the report says.