Automation is already claiming UK jobs: study

Research from job search engine Adzuna has found that almost two thirds of the fastest declining job roles in the UK are dropping due to automation. The report, The Start of the Curve, found that 13 of the 20 steepest declines were feeling the effects of increasing automation.

In order to judge the ways in which the job market is changing, the report analysed over 79 million UK job adverts from the previous two years to put together a record of nearly all UK vacancies advertised in that period.

Among the fastest declining roles were pharmacy assistants, travel agents and translators. Perhaps surprisingly, given the creative nature of the work, illustrators and writers also found their way into the top ten occupations in decline.

That’s not to say it’s all bad, however, as the study also noted that advancing technology is serving to create roles in other areas.

“The robots are not just coming, they are here already – in our pockets, workplaces and homes. Automation is already replacing jobs and could be set to replace some roles – like translators and travel agents – entirely. But, at least in the short term, AI advances seem to be creating new jobs just as fast,” said Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna.

“Tech is changing the shape of industries in more complex ways than previously predicted.  For example in the creative and design fields, previously feted as ‘robot-proof’, we are seeing that software and technological tools can help even the most creative of professionals automate tasks, find efficiencies in workflows, and change the way they work.“

Providing context for the study was the 2013 paper by Frey & Osborne, The Future of Employment, which made predictions as to what the coming years of UK jobs would look like. However, while the shifting nature of the job market is notable, Adzuna’s report found that jobs predicted to be extinct in 10-20 years still have some way to go.

Nail technicians, retail security officers and full stack developers all featured in the five fastest growing professions in the UK. As can be seen with the selection, the key drivers for growing roles that Adzuna identified were increases in disposable income spent on services, emerging technologies and rising demand for manual workers.

Notably, the same changing technology that is causing the decline of some roles is attributed to causing 25% of the fastest rising roles. While automation is undoubtedly causing a dent in large chunks of the job market, it’s opening up opportunities to be exploited elsewhere.

“The wave of technological innovation is undoubtedly gathering momentum, and Adzuna analysis suggests this force could well be set to significantly change the shape of the UK job market by 2040” James Neave, head of data science at Adzuna, concluded.

“Although no-one has a crystal ball on this, it looks likely a substantial portion of all desk-based jobs will become automated within the next 25 years.”

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