Automation, robots and artificial intelligence will bring a bigger shift than industrialisation

Lynsey Barber
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Machines will replace millions of jobs (Source: Getty)

Automation will bring a bigger historical shift to the world of work than the move from agriculture to manufacturing by 2030.

Up to 14 per cent of the working population around the world - as many as 375m people - may have to change occupation, researchers at McKinsey estimate.

They calculate that there is likely to be enough demand for labour however, offsetting this shift rather than unemployment as many fear.

"The question is not so much whether there will be enough work to go around in the future, but how individuals, sectors, and entire countries will navigate the complicated workforce transitions that automation will entail in the years ahead," said Susan Lund, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute.

"The coming workforce disruptions could match the scale of the epic historical shifts out of agriculture and manufacturing—and could possibly occur at a faster pace."

It could also boost productivity as they expect these jobs to be more highly skilled. The analysis of more than 46 countries which covers more then 90 per cent of GDP.

But McKinsey warns that efforts must be made by policy makers and business leaders to adapt to changes, in particular mid-career job training in the UK, with "a focus on robust economic growth and large-scale retraining and re-employment of workers in the coming decade," said James Manyika, chairman and director of the McKinsey Global Institute.

"Successfully helping workers transition to new occupations may require an initiative on the scale of the Marshall Plan, involving sustained investment, new training models, income transition support, and collaboration between the public and private sectors.”

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