More than half of jobs on leave in UK at risk of automated – report | Business

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More than half of laid-off jobs in the UK are most vulnerable to automation, according to a report, as the Covid crisis accelerates technological change in the workplace, leading to layoffs and inequality across the country.
The two-year Workers and Technology Commission, chaired by Labor MP Yvette Cooper, found that workers in sectors most affected by the pandemic – such as hospitality, recreation and retail – are facing at a “double whammy” because their jobs are at most risk of being replaced by machines.

Findings from the commission, organized by the Fabian Society and the community union, show that up to 61% of the jobs laid off in the first half of this year were in industries where automation is most likely to lead to disruptions. job losses.

The rapid adoption of technology during the coronavirus pandemic has helped protect jobs as millions of employees work from home. But as employers have used new technologies to survive, the commission of academics and trade unionists said many jobs on leave will not return.

The demands of physical distancing, remote working and online shopping have driven consumers and businesses to make permanent changes to the way they use technology this year, with the pandemic likely to have a lasting impact on consumers. business and society. As spending at some brick-and-mortar stores has plummeted, leading to thousands of layoffs by prominent employers, online spending has exploded – benefiting businesses with fewer staff and highly automated operations.

According to the commission, 5.9 million of the 9.6 million laid-off workers were in the third of industries with jobs most at risk of automation, according to analysis of figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Urging the government to increase spending on employment support and skills to help workers retrain for new employment opportunities, the report said failure to take action could exacerbate social disruption and fuel an increase in inequality.

He said low-paid and disadvantaged workers were more likely to work in high-risk automation jobs, with women, younger and older workers, people from ethnic minorities and staff with disabilities most likely. to be losers.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has pledged more funding for employment and training agencies since the pandemic struck, including a £ 2 billion kickstart fund to help young people find work. However, the committee said further measures were urgently needed to address the scale of the jobs crisis.

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He said free training was to be offered to all workers on leave this winter, before the wage subsidy scheme ended at the end of March. Among a wide range of recommendations, he also said the Treasury should also expand kickstart to support people over 25 and guarantee them a job, training or the opportunity to return to school full-time.

“The government is really not looking at this double risk, on how you are helping the economy get through the Covid crisis and the people most affected by these much faster technological changes, to make sure they are not left behind and lost as a result, ”Cooper said.

“There is a real risk of worsening inequalities, long-term structural unemployment and low wages, as people cannot benefit from the economic recovery and technological improvements that we all want to be able to benefit from.”

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