What Does Automation Mean for the Future of Work?

The Mckinsey Global Institute looks into how a technology-driven world will affect workers.

November 29, 2017 11:12 am
BRAMPTON, ON - NOVEMBER, 24 The vast, mostly automated facility is one of 4 around Toronto. One of 4 Amazon Fulfilment Centres is geared up and firing on all cylinders for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the unofficial start to the Holiday season. The highly automated facility in the Steeles and Winston Churchill Blvd area in Brampton handled millions of products. packages, presents, shopping, shipping, packing, (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Despite the benefits of a technology-driven world, automation — like self-driving cars, machines that read X-rays, and algorithms that respond to customer-service inquiries — can actually replace work activities humans perform on a daily basis. McKinsey Global Institute’s latest report,  Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automationlooks into the number and types of jobs that might be created under different scenarios through 2030, and compares that to jobs that might be lost because of automation.

McKinsey estimates that as many as 375 million workers around the world may need to switch occupational categories and learn new skills. In about 60 percent of occupations, at least one-third of the activities could be automated, which means that workers are facing a lot of changes as technology barrels forward. However, Less than five percent of occupations consist of activities that could be fully automated.

Research shows that somewhere between zero and 30 percent of hours worked globally could be automated by 2030, but results differ per country. The jobs that are more likely to get automated over time are physical ones in predictable environments, McKinsey reports, like operating machinery or making fast food. This doesn’t necessarily mean that workers at places like this will all be let go, just that they may move to different responsibilities and tasks.

However, McKinsey does estimate that 75 million to 375 million people may need to switch occupations or learn new skills. They estimate between 400 million and 800 million people might be displaced by automation.

A key concern is whether or not there will be enough work for everyone in the future. McKinsey reports that with enough economic growth, innovation and investment, there will be enough new job creation to offset the impact of automation.

Read the whole report through the link below.

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