Robots will create more jobs than they displace, says WEF
The rise of machines, robots and algorithms in the workplace stands to create almost double the number of jobs for the global economy by the middle of the next decade than it puts at risk of being replaced.
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), about 133m jobs globally could be created with the help of rapid technological advances in the workplace over the next decade, compared with 75m that could be displaced.
The findings will go some way towards assuaging fears that the rise of the robot economy could cost millions of workers their jobs, with widespread ramifications for pay, living standards and inequality across developed nations.
The WEF report suggests new technologies have the capacity to both disrupt and create new ways of working, similar to previous periods of economic history such as the Industrial Revolution, when the advent of steam power and then electricity helped spur the creation of new jobs and the development of the middle class.
The findings, from a survey of company executives representing 15 million workers in 20 different nations by the organiser of the annual Davos gathering of business leaders and politicians, does, however, warn of risks posed by automation.
The WEF said that robots and algorithms would “vastly improve” the productivity of existing jobs and lead to many new ones in the coming years.
As a result we would see more data analysts, software developers and social media specialists, as well as job roles based on “distinctively human traits” such as customer service workers and teachers.
However, the think tank said the gains would come amid “significant disruption” as some roles become “increasingly redundant”.
It sees robots swiftly replacing positions in accounting firms, factories and post offices, as well as secretarial roles and cashier work.
Amid this “significant shift” workers would need to be retrained to update their skills, it said.
It also urged governments to prepare safety nets for workers whose jobs are lost.