Very real threat from robots taking over jobs in Preston

Half the jobs in Preston could be lost to automation in the future.

Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 3:38 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 4:43 pm
Data shows 56,000 jobs in Preston, measured in 2017, could be partially or totally replaced by machines over the coming years

The Confederation of British Industry says technology will replace some occupations but, also, will bring new and more technical jobs.

New Office of National Statistics (ONS) data shows that 56,000 jobs in Preston, measured in 2017, could be partially or totally replaced by machines over the coming years. That's 50 per cent of the occupations in the area, one of the highest rates in England.

Of them, 13 per cent were at high risk, which means the probability of them being replaced by machines is above 70 per cent.

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The threat was medium for a further 70 per cent of jobs as the chances of automation are between 30 per cent and 70 per cent .

An ONS spokesman said: "It is not so much that robots are taking over, but that repetitive tasks can be carried out more quickly and efficiently by an algorithm or a machine. The risk of automation tends to be higher for lower-skilled roles for this reason."

Felicity Burch, the CBI's director of innovation and digital, said technology is predominantly putting jobs held by women, and low-skilled occupations, at risk.

She said: "The picture is complicated, as ONS’s own analysis shows that some of the roles most at risk of automation saw a boost in recent years. Furthermore, we know that the more businesses invest in new technology, the more likely they are to create new roles.

"If we are to capture the benefits, there are two fundamental things to get right – encouraging further investment and making sure that people have the digital skills they need to get the new jobs that the future will bring."

The ONS analysed the jobs of 20m people across England in 2017 and found that 7.4 per cent were at high risk of being replaced. And 70 per cent of the roles at high risk of automation are currently held by women.

People aged 20 to 24 years old are most likely to be at risk of having their job replaced, and low-skilled occupations, like waiting or shelf stacking, face the highest risk.

Jobs requiring higher qualifications, such as medical practitioners and higher education teachers, are less susceptible to computerisation.