Up to 8 million UK jobs could be at risk from AI unless government acts according to a report out today

The Think Tank IPPR say that Back office, entry level and part-time jobs most exposed to automation, and women will be significantly more affected

11 per cent of tasks are exposed to existing generative AI, rising to 59 per cent if companies integrate AI more deeply into their systems

However they add that an alternative future is possible if government, employers and unions act to preserve and help create new automation-safe jobs

IPPR analysis of 22,000 tasks in the UK economy, covering every type of job, finds that 11 per cent of tasks done by workers are already exposed to in the first wave. It identifies ‘routine cognitive’ tasks (such as database management) and ‘organisational and strategic’ tasks (such as scheduling or inventory management) as most exposed to generative AI, which can both read and create text, software code and data.

However, this could increase to AI doing 59 per cent of tasks in the second wave. This would also impact non-routine cognitive tasks (such as creating and maintaining databases) and would affect increasingly higher earning jobs.

It says that back-office, entry level and part time jobs are at the highest risk of being disrupted during the first wave. These include secretarial, customer service and administrative roles.

Women are more likely to be in such jobs, which means they will be among the most affected, the report says. Young people are also at high risk as firms hire fewer people for entry-level jobs and introduce AI technologies instead. In addition, those on medium and low wages are most exposed to being replaced by AI.

However Deployment of AI could also free up labour to fill gaps related to unaddressed social needs. For instance, workers could be re-allocated to social care and mental health services which are currently under-resourced.

The modelling shows that there is no single predetermined path for how AI implementation will play out in the labour market. It also urges intervention to ensure that the economic gains are widely spread, rather than accruing to only a few.

Without government action and with companies left to their own devices, the worst-case scenario is a real possibility, IPPR says.

Carsten Jung, senior economist at IPPR, said:

“Already existing generative AI could lead to big labour market disruption or it could hugely boost economic growth, either way it is set to be a game changer for millions of us. Many firms are already investing in it, and it has potential to speed up many more tasks as more businesses adopt it.

“Over the next five years it could transform knowledge work. The question now is less whether AI can be useful, but rather how fast and in what manner employers will use it.

History show that technological transition can be a boon if well managed, or can end in disruption if left to unfold without controls. Indeed, some occupations could be hard hit by generative AI, starting with back office jobs.

“But technology isn’t destiny and a jobs apocalypse is not inevitable – government, employers and unions have the opportunity to make crucial design decisions now that ensure we manage this new technology well. If they don’t act soon, it may be too late.”


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