Gov't Estimates Show Automation Puts 1.5 Million British Workers at Risk of Losing Jobs


The Office of National Statistics revealed than 1.5 million British workers are at risk of unemployment due to impending automation / Photo by: Max Pixel


Around 1.5 million British workers are at high risk of unemployment because of automation, estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found, with women and part-timers being the most affected.

Supermarket checkout assistants already felt the impact of the phenomenon with 25.3 percent of jobs disappearing between 2011 and 2017, The Guardian reports citing government estimates. Other laborers that took a toll because of automation include laundry workers, farmers, and tyre fitters—among which figures have declined by 15 percent or more as machines took over the needed labor.

The ONS said female workers will likely be the most affected with a huge proportion of high-risk jobs—70.2 percent in 2017—filled by women. It specified Tamworth, Rutland, and South Holland in Lincolnshire as the areas that are mostly immersed in automation—which partly shows a relatively high level of farm workers—while Camden in north London is the region wherein workers are least at risk.

However, government analysis also found that many workers—especially those in their mid to late 30s who work in London and the south-east—are not that concerned with the developments of automation, The Guardian says.

“The risk of job automation … is lowest for workers between 35 and 39. Just 1.3% of people in this age bracket are in roles at high risk of automation,” the ONS said. It found that the positions most at risk are those held by young adults partly because entry-level jobs have less sophisticated tasks that can be easily automated.

Meanwhile, workers who attain higher levels of education are safe from automation. The statistics agency said that 39 percent of the jobs at risk are held by people whose educational level was GCSE, while 1.2 percent were held by workers who attained a higher educational level.

Earlier in the study, leisure and theme park attendants were noted to be at high risk of automation, but analysis found that between 2011 and 2017, employment in the sector grew by over 50 percent.

“If we isolate the 20 occupations with the highest probability of automation, we would expect employment to decrease in these occupations as automation starts to take place," the ONS said, adding: "However, this is not the case across all occupations – some have experienced an increase in employment between 2011 and 2017.”