Furloughed jobs at risk of automation have been identified in a report released this week. The report was organised by the Fabien Society and Community Trade Union and conducted over two years. The report comes as coronavirus continues to drive workplace change and increase redundancies. The pandemic is combining with the increase in automation technology to hit some sectors twice as hard. The report revealed hospitality, leisure and retail have the highest risk of jobs being replaced by machines. Findings from the report showed nearly 61% of furloughed jobs were in sectors with the highest risk of automation. This is causing many people to ask, ‘is my job at risk of automation?’
The ugly side of remote working
Remote working allows a growing number of people to work effectively at home. However, whilst the emergence of new technology is helping to protect millions of jobs, it is also ringing a death knell for many others. Such new technology, combined with physical-distance requirements and online shopping, is forcing companies to change how they operate. Such changes are predicted to be long-lasting, both for industry and society. The report revealed 5.9 million people from a total of 9.6 million people currently furloughed could be affected. With many of these jobs at high risk of automation. Such a seismic change in many different industries is causing fears of mass unemployment and further increases in inequality.
Jobs at risk of automation – what is being done?
The report calls on the UK government to increase job and skills support to help people retrain and get back to work. This will enable many people to move away from jobs at risk of automation and towards those referred to as ‘viable’. Women, younger and older workers, ethnic minorities and the disables were identified as groups most at risk. It is therefore these groups that need the most help in finding jobs least at risk of automation. The UK government has begun to respond to the issue of how automation threatens jobs. The Kickstart scheme is a £2bn project designed to help young people gain valuable work skills and experience. The scheme was unveiled by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, and is aimed at 16-24-year olds. The scheme involves providing the wages of all additional new starters that companies take on for a period of at least six months.
The government must do more
The authors of the report say the government must do more to protect jobs at risk of automation. The report recommends free training be offered to every worker furloughed before the scheme ends in March 2021. The government is also advised to expand its Kickstart scheme to those over the age of 25. Further recommendations included providing people with guaranteed choices of either a job, training or full-time education. The report concludes that more must be done to prevent large parts of the working population from falling further behind. It also stressed the dangers of long-term structural unemployment and low pay that automation and the effects of the pandemic will cause.
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