work and AI

One third of jobs threatened by robotics and algorithms

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As part of its Future of Work initiative, the OECD has just published a working paper that examines the proportion of jobs that are highly exposed to the risk of automation by computers and algorithms. The study, which covers 32 countries and is based on a detailed analysis extracted from the OECD's Adult Skills Assessment (ASA), estimates that about 14 % of jobs in the countries considered are highly automatable (i.e. they have a probability of automation greater than 70 %). Even if these estimates are more modest than those of Frey and Osborne (2013), this phenomenon still affects more than 66 million workers in the 32 countries covered by the study.
 
Alobalisation, technological progress and demographic change are having a profound impact on OECD labour markets, affecting both the quantity and quality of jobs available, as well as how and by whom they are performed. The future of work offers unparalleled opportunities, but there are also significant challenges associated with these megatrends. While it is difficult (if not counterproductive) to try to plan in detail for the potential changes that could affect the world of work in the years ahead, it is important for policymakers to strengthen the resilience and adaptability of labour markets so that workers and countries can manage the transition with as little disruption as possible, while maximizing the potential benefits. In this context, the OECD Future of Work initiative examines how demographic change, globalisation and technological progress are affecting the quantity and quality of jobs, as well as labour market inclusion - and what this means for labour market, skills and social policy. 
 
32 % of all jobs could undergo major transformations, which means that a considerable proportion, but not all, of the tasks associated with them could be automated, with the result that the skills required to perform these jobs would change significantly.
 
There are marked variations between countries: 33 % of all jobs in Slovakia are highly automatable, compared with only 6 % in Norway. More generally, jobs in Anglo-Saxon and Nordic countries and in the Netherlands are less exposed to the risk of automation than jobs in Eastern and Southern European countries, Germany, Chile and Japan. In France, 16.4% of all jobs are highly automatable, just above the OECD average of 14%.
 
The study shows that the low-skilled and young people are among the most vulnerable. The jobs most at risk are mainly low-skilled jobs in the food, cleaning, mining, construction and transport sectors. Young people often work in these sectors to finance their education; even highly educated young people start in low-level, repetitive jobs before moving on to jobs that make better use of their cognitive and social skills and are therefore less likely to be automated.
 
In its study, the OECD explains that new ways need to be found to help young people gain work experience during their studies. The report also highlights the need to provide retraining opportunities and social protection for the 14 % of workers whose jobs could be totally restructured in terms of the tasks to be performed or significantly reduced in size.
At the same time, given the high proportion of workers whose jobs are expected to change relatively significantly as a result of automation, countries need to strengthen their adult education policies to ensure that their workforces are prepared for the changes that are taking place in terms of the skills required in the labour market.
 
Read the OECD study (in English only)
 
More information on the future of work - OECD : http://www.oecd.org/fr/emploi/emp/
 

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