(UK)

‘Removing the monotony from our day jobs’ could be a major upside of increased automation in the workplace, according to new research.

PwC in its latest UK Economic Outlook report looks at the likely impact of robotics on employment across industry sectors worldwide.

While in the UK, for example, PwC predicts robots will take up to 30% of existing jobs over the next 15 years – compared to 38% in the US and 35% in Germany – more positions will be created as “new AI-related technologies will also boost productivity and generate additional jobs elsewhere in the economy”.

“A key driver of our industry-level estimates is the fact that manual and routine tasks are more susceptible to automation, while social skills are relatively less automatable. That said, no industry is entirely immune from future advances in robotics and AI,” said John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC. “Automating more manual and repetitive tasks will eliminate some existing jobs, but could also enable some workers to focus on higher value, more rewarding and creative work, removing the monotony from our day jobs. By boosting productivity – a key UK weakness over the past decade – and so generating wealth, advances in robotics and AI should also create additional jobs in less automatable parts of the economy as this extra wealth is spent or invested.”

Though total employment won’t necessarily change, PwC said inequality could rise as as a larger slice of the “economic pie” goes to those with the skills to thrive in a digital economy.

“What’s important is making sure that the potential gains from automation are shared more widely across society and no one gets left behind. Responsible employers need to ensure they encourage flexibility and adaptability in their people so we are all ready for the change,” added Jon Andrews, head of technology and investments at PwC.