‘Over a third’ of European jobs at risk from automation

Over a third - 34 per cent - of European jobs are at risk from automation according to new research by Forrester.

The analyst firm said that by 2040 12 million jobs will be lost to automation across France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK, which it called Europe-5.

Forrester said that while the “pandemic continues to pressure European businesses to invest more heavily and rapidly in automation, it's not the only factor contributing to the forecasted job loss”.

Workers with little bargaining power are most at risk of displacement according to Forrester, especially in countries where many are subject to casual employment contracts, including zero-hour contracts in the UK, which require no guaranteed working hours, or part-time jobs with low wages, such as "mini-jobs" in Germany.

Job losses to automation will subsequently impact European workers in wholesale, retail, transport, accommodation, food services, and leisure and hospitality on a larger scale according to the analyst firm.

However, Forrester said that green energy and automation will create 9 million new jobs in Europe-5 by 2040, particularly in the fields of clean energy, clean buildings, and smart cities.

The analyst firm called Europe's aging population “a demographic time bomb”.

Forrester claimed that by 2050, Europe-5 will have 30 million fewer people of working age than in 2020 and said that European businesses need to embrace automation to help fill the gaps of an aging workforce.

The report also said that countries such as France, Germany, Italy, and Spain - where industry, construction, and agriculture provide a larger share of their economies - are investing more in industrial automation to increase productivity.

Forrester claimed that rather than looking at automation as a substitute for a job, European organisations are starting to assess both people and machine skills when executing different tasks, including managing, and updating HR systems or designing training programmes.

Mid-skill labour jobs that consist of simple, routine tasks are most at risk from automation according to the analyst firm.

Forrester said that routine jobs make up 38 per cent of the workforce in Germany, 34 per cent of the workforce in France, and 31 per cent of the workforce in the UK, and that in total 49 million jobs in Europe-5 are at risk from automation.

The threat of automation impacts employees in some industries more than others.

Research from electrical goods retailer Electrical Direct released in June said that 70.69 per cent of retail assistants face the possibility of automation taking their jobs.

"Lost productivity due to Covid-19 is forcing companies globally to automate manual processes and improve remote work," said Michael O'Grady, principal forecast analyst at Forrester. "The pandemic is just one factor that will shape the future of work in Europe over the next two decades, however.

“European organisations are also in a particularly strong position to embrace automation because of Europe's declining working-age population and the high number of routine low-skilled jobs that can be easily automated.”

He added: “Automation will subsequently become integral to how European governments and employers look at their competitiveness and manage their older demographic."

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