Accountancy among sectors with highest risk of automation

PROFESSIONAL, scientific and technical services including accountancy are among those at highest risk of automation, research from Deloitte has revealed.

The Big Four firm’s analysis is based on the latest Office for National Statistics figures, combined with its 2014 work with Oxford University, which found that a total of 35% of today’s UK jobs have a high chance of being automated. 

The results show manufacturing is the field that has become most automated in the 15 years since 2001, with 720,000 net jobs lost, 650,000 (90%) of which had a high chance of automation. Wholesale and retail was a close second, with an overall loss of 338,000 jobs, 239,000 (71%) of which had a high chance of automation, while professional, scientific and technical roles suffered a loss of 269,000 jobs which had a high chance of automation.

However, the sector also saw 650,000 jobs created, 575,000 (88%) of which have a low chance of automation.

The changing picture of the UK workforce is being matched in the distribution of wages. Between 2001 and 2015 the sectors with the three largest increases in overall wage contribution were health & social work, with £27.36bn added in wages, professional scientific & technical roles, £23.91bn added, and financial & insurance services, £18.53bn added.

The total wage contribution of the manufacturing sector decreased by £16.52bn, followed by retail, with a decrease of £4.14bn, and transportation and storage with a decrease of £2.23bn.

Vice chairman of Deloitte Angus Knowles-Cutler said: “The pattern of job automation by UK industry is quite diverse. Sectors where many tasks are manual, clerical, administrative and repetitive are much more vulnerable than those where creative, technical or strong interpersonal skills are required.

“The recent history of the UK economy gives us reason for optimism. Technology has created far more jobs than it has destroyed since 2001, with new roles tending to pay better than those that have been replaced and be safer from the risk of future automation. Also, the effective use of technology will be critical in keeping the country successful and productive in a competitive world.”

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