According to a new study by accountancy firm, Deloitte, a quarter of UK jobs in the business services sector have reached a “high risk” of becoming automated in the next two decades.
As technology becomes further advanced and affordable and wages increase in conjunction, Deloitte issued warnings that robots could replace one-fifth of administrative job roles by 2035.
Partner at Deloitte, Simon Barnes, stated that the workforce in the business services sector could “fundamentally change over the next 10 to 20 years” and it is likely that humans will no longer have to perform “repetitive and highly structured” roles.
“The business services workforce in the UK will fundamentally change over the next ten to 20 years. Repetitive and highly structured job roles are likely to be reduced, while new, higher-skilled roles will be created. As automation becomes increasingly more cognitive and less robotic, the business services sector must move fast to make sure they recruit and retrain people with the right skills and knowledge to address this.”
With 3.3 million jobs classified as business service roles, Deloitte found that as many as 8000,000 to 1 million jobs could become automated.
Last month, Mark Carney, the Bank of England Governor warned that many of the jobs and industries that we know “will be gone tomorrow” due to the speed of technological change.
During his speech at the University of Alberta, he said: "It is entirely unrealistic to map out the decades ahead", advising graduates to be “flexible and adventurous” in their career choices.
The Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, also estimated that nearly half of all British jobs could be automated in the next 20 years by increasingly intelligent and creative robots.
He also admitted that the occupations most at risk include “administrative, clerical and production tasks”, further noting that “those most at risk from automation tend, on average, to have the lowest wage.”
However, he also believes that as technology evolves machines will not only substitute manual tasks but also those that require thinking and creativity:
“Technology appears to be resulting in faster and wider hollowing-out than in the past”
“The smarter machines become, the greater the likelihood that the space remaining for uniquely human skills could shrink further”.
Deloitte expects “the pace of automation to increase exponentially over the next few decades” says Barnes, adding that sectors like business services may need to consider “the full potential of intelligent automation” to remain competitive and bolster their efficiency and quality.
According to Deloitte’s analysis, rising labour costs due to recent government policies such as the National Living Wage are likely to spur a re-evaluation of productivity and efficiency in the business services sector.