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Davos Forecasts Five Million Jobs Lost to Automation in 15 Nations by 2020
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January 19, 2016, 06:51 AM
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The global thinkers at the World Economic Forum have produced a new report drilling down into the automation workplace revolution, which they call the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The report focuses on world trends and has no specifics about the job losses of individual countries, at least that I could find in a brief search & skim of the paper, titled The Future of Jobs: Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

It isn’t surprising to treat automation as a global phenomenon, because its effects are very similar throughout the industrialized world and in developing nations too, because of the decreasing price of robots. Every business tries to lower its costs, and so they all will use smart machines to survive.

One interesting item is the forecast of a total loss of 7.1 million jobs, offset by a gain of 2 million new positions: that figure give an estimated ratio of old jobs destroyed to new jobs created. There are a number of cheerful public voices opining that the coming disruption will be minor and the new jobs will make up for the ones lost, but the Davos thinkers have come out with the pessimistic view, seeing severe job reduction as the net result.

For an example of that discussion, see Automation Debate: Will Smart Machines Disrupt the Economic Order or Not? where Martin Ford (author of Rise of the Robots) politely takes the negative, realistic side.

Finally, there is not a whole lot that can be done about technological unemployment, but the government should at least end immigration, a vestige of earlier centuries which needs to be put aside as being obsolete, along with homesteading. Workers should no longer to be imported because citizens will need all of the remaining jobs.

Robots and artificial intelligence will kill off five MILLION jobs by 2020 – and women will be worst hit, Daily Mail, January 18, 2016

Disruptive labour market changes, including the rise of robots and artificial intelligence, will result in a net loss of 5.1 million jobs over the next five years in 15 leading countries – and women will be worst hit, a major new study released at Davos has claimed.

The projection by the World Economic Forum (WEF), which is holding its annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort this week, assumes a total loss of 7.1 million jobs, offset by a gain of 2 million new positions.

Women will be the biggest losers as their jobs are often concentrated in low-growth or declining areas such as sales, office and administrative roles, the report said.

At the declining end of the labour market, the drivers of change identified by our respondents will heavily disrupt two of the job families most clearly dominated by women and men: Office and Administrative and Manufacturing and Production, respectively.

‘In short, as industries prepare to adapt to disruptive change the dynamics of the industry gender gap will be at the centre of many facets of the new employment landscape.’

While men will see approximately one job gained for every three lost over the next five years, women face more than five jobs lost for every one gained.

‘As the Fourth Industrial Revolution takes hold in different industries and job families, it will affect female and male workers in distinct ways,’ the team claims.

‘By their very nature, many anticipated disruptive changes have the potential to enable the narrowing of gender gaps in many industries.

‘For example, household work, that is still primarily the responsibility of women in most societies, could be further automated, leaving women to put their skill sets to better use, including in the formal labour market.’

The assessment highlights the challenges posed by modern technologies that are automating and making redundant multiple human tasks, from manufacturing to healthcare.

With the International Labour Organization, part of the United Nations, already forecasting an increase in global unemployment of 11 million by 2020, the size of the additional job losses is sobering.

The 15 economies covered by the survey account for approximately 65 percent of the world’s total workforce.

‘To prevent a worst-case scenario – technological change accompanied by talent shortages, mass unemployment and growing inequality – reskilling and upskilling of today’s workers will be critical,’ the authors said.

‘It is simply not possible to weather the current technological revolution by waiting for the next generation’s workforce to become better prepared.’

Two-thirds of the projected losses are expected to fall in the office and administrative sectors as smart machines take over more routine tasks, according to latest findings, which are based on a global survey of personnel and strategy executives.

The WEF has made ‘the fourth industrial revolution’ – a topic covering robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and biotechnology – the official theme of this year’s Davos meeting, which runs from Jan. 20 to 23.

The ‘Future of Jobs’ report concluded that jobs would be displaced in every industry, although the impact would vary considerably, with the biggest negative losses likely to be in healthcare, reflecting the rise of telemedicine, followed by energy and financial services.

At the same time, however, there will be a growing demand for certain skilled workers, including data analysts and specialist sales representatives.