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Fewer jobs at risk of automation, says OECD

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Fewer jobs are at risk of automation than previously thought, particularly white collar jobs, finds new research by the OECD.

While a previous forecast in 2013 by Oxford University suggested that as many as 47% of jobs were at risk from automation, the OECD forecast said only 14% of jobs were ‘highly automatable’, with a probability of automation over 70%. This is around 66 million workers.

The research was conducted across 32 countries, and showed that close to one in two jobs are likely to be affected by automation, based on the tasks they involve.

The degree of vulnerability varied considerably with the type of job and from country to country. For example, the report said: “33% of all jobs in Slovakia are highly automatable, while this is only the case with 6% of the jobs in Norway. More generally, jobs in Anglo-Saxon, Nordic countries and the Netherlands are less automatable than jobs in Eastern European countries, South European countries, Germany, Chile and Japan.”

Automation mainly affects jobs in the manufacturing industry and agriculture, although a number of service sectors, such as postal and courier services, land transport and food services are also found to be highly automatable. There is still a high correlation with the educational level required for a job – the least automatable occupations almost all require professional training and/or tertiary education.

The report added: “Despite recurrent arguments that automation may start to adversely affect selected highly skilled occupations, this prediction is not supported.”

The study also flagged that ‘teenage’ or entry level jobs were at high risk of automation, potentially making it more difficult for young people to build skills and experience.


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