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Robots may affect 30% of U.K. jobs, finance to take early hit

(Bloomberg) -- Financial services workers will be among the first to be hit by the rise of automation while women will feel the effects earlier than men, according to research by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The report -- which analyzed more than 200,000 jobs across 29 countries -- anticipates three stages of automation between now and the mid-2030s, which will eventually impact almost one third of U.K. workers. The first, the algorithm wave, is already underway.

Areas likely to be automatedSectors most likely to be affected% of U.K. jobs impacted
Algorithm wave - to early-2020sStructured data analysis and simple digital tasks, such as credit scoringFinancial, professional and technical services, information and communications2-3%
Augmentation wave - to late-2020sDynamic interaction with technology for clerical support and decision making. Aerial drones, robots in warehouses and semi-autonomous vehiclesAll industry sectors, with financial services still most impacted20%
Autonomy wave - by mid-2030sAI to analyze data from multiple sources, make decisions and take physical actions with little or no human inputTransport, manufacturing and retail30%

PwC found more women will initially be affected, with men more likely to feel the effects in the third wave by the mid-2030s due to the current gender profiles of employment in different sectors. Higher educated workers -- particularly in clerical and analytical roles -- may take a bigger hit early on, but the less qualified will be particularly exposed in the long run.

robots and uk jobs.jpg
Robotic arms weld parts to be used in an automobile chassis in the Volkswagen AG factory, as part of the ?Think Blue? sustainability initiative in Wolfsburg, Germany, on Friday, May 19, 2017. European car sales fell the most in four years in April as the shift of Easter from March reduced buyers? time for shopping, while registrations in the U.K. were further sapped by tax changes. Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

While that means workers may need support to learn fresh skills and find new employment, PwC Chief Economist John Hawksworth said that, overall, the change will be positive for the British economy.

“We don’t believe that automation will lead to mass technological unemployment by the 2030s, any more than it has done in the decades since the digital revolution began. In the long run, AI, robotics and related technologies should not only make a significant contribution to U.K. GDP of up to 10 percent, but should also generate enough new jobs to broadly offset the potential job losses.”