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Low computer skills make for an uneven race against the robots

(Bloomberg) --In the race against robots, workers in some countries are starting with a significant handicap.

A report from the OECD shows a sharp contrast in the extent to which workers in different countries engage with technology, whether writing emails or programming. That matters because those who don’t use it much in their jobs will need more training and face greater disruption of their work lives.

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UBTech Robotics Inc.'s Lynx robot stands on display at the company's headquarters in Shenzhen, China, on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. UBTech's Chief Executive Officer James Zhou scored a win this year when Tencent Holdings Ltd. helped fund his startup at a $5 billion valuation. But Zhou's already chasing more cash. The goal? To make his singing, dancing, yoga-teaching robots more lifelike. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

In some countries, people “often lack the foundation skills necessary to flourish in the digital world,” the OECD said. Those in many northern European countries are ahead in the transformation of the workplace as they already use Information and Communications Technology intensively, it said.

“It is urgent for countries to focus on building the skills of workers whose jobs are at high risk of automation,” the OECD said.