ONS warns automation could ‘replace 1.5 million jobs’

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has warned that automation could replace up to 1.5 million jobs in the UK, leaving workers unemployed.

The ONS reached its findings by analysing the jobs of 20 million people in England in 2017, finding that the automation of jobs could impact the UK’s labour market, economy and society, with computer programs, algorithms, and robots forecast to replace a variety of roles in the future.

It also revealed that the jobs ‘most at risk’ of automation are those considered to be ‘routine or low-skilled’ – whereas jobs at the lowest risk of becoming automated are medical practitioners, teaching professionals and senior professionals within education. The ONS found that 70% of the jobs at risk of becoming automated are carried out by women, and that because of the link between risk and type of occupation, levels of projected automation also vary by region.

Yet it’s not all doom and gloom – machines are not set to take over the world anytime soon. In its report, the ONS stated: ‘It is not so much that robots are taking over, but that routine and repetitive tasks can be carried out more quickly and efficiently by an algorithm written by a human, or a machine designed for one specific function. And, as Forbes reports, automation provides far greater opportunities for humans to be more creative, removing mindless repetitive tasks, leaving room for reskilling and fulfilling their potential.

From our perspective in the field of accounting and tax, we’re more than happy for automation, such as clever expense tracking apps to reduce our data entry workload, leaving our team with more time to offer added value services to clients – what’s your take on the debate?