Hospitality and manufacturing jobs at risk as coronavirus accelerates rise of the robots
Jobs in hospitality, leisure, and manufacturing are among the most likely to be lost as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates the automation of the economy.
A new survey by the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) shows that the pandemic has led to rapid digitalisation of swathes of sectors.
In the hospitality industry, for example, new technologies like Amazon’s checkout-free stores and Itsu’s robots could drive unemployment in second wave.
The RSA warned that even though the first wave of the pandemic saw demand for such roles grow, in the long term they could be the most at risk of being digitalised.
The study also finds that those roles that are unlikely to undergo automation – like those in the arts and entertainment – could also be lost despite their long-term viability.
Around 70 per cent of jobs in the creative arts were furloughed but the sector has a low automation risk and the number of jobs increased 35 per cent from 2011 to 2019, one of the fastest in the last decade.
Before the Open newsletter: Start your day with the City View podcast and key market data
The RSA said that these jobs need more support if they are to outlast the current crisis.
In order to do so, the government should modify its Job Support Scheme (JSS) and introduce a two-track system based on the French ‘partial activity’ scheme, the body said.
Alongside the existing national JSS scheme, this would see an alternative pathway for businesses in the most at-risk sectors, with reduced employer contributions.
It should also set up a transition sector to move those workers most at risk of losing their jobs through automation to new careers.
Fabian Wallace-Stephens, report author and senior researcher at the RSA, said:
“Covid-19 is accelerating the rise of the robots — with some sectors seeing five years of digital transformation in five months alone — but the government’s response to the pandemic risks us losing many ‘automation-proof’ jobs.
“The arts and entertainment, travel and tourism, and the creative industries, are likely to be important areas for jobs growth in the future, but need more support throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.