Jobs in the north of England and the Midlands are the most at threat from the seemingly inexorable march of robots, an urban policy research unit reckons.
According to the Centre for Cities’ (CfC) estimates, workers are set to suffer over the next few years as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation encroaches in areas such as admin, retail and warehouses.
Mansfield tops the CfC’s critical list of nine places most at threat from machines, where nearly 30% of roles are expected to be lost to robots by 2030, with Sunderland and Wakefield very close behind.
Overall, the CfC thinks that three million UK jobs will be gobbled up by robots over the next 12 years. Other areas particularly at risk from robot workers include Stoke, Doncaster, Blackburn, Northampton, Dundee and Huddersfield, so the CfC says.
CfC chief executive Andrew Carter said: ‘Automation and globalisation will bring huge opportunities, but there is also a real risk that many people and places will lose out. We need to reform the education system to give young people the skills to thrive in the future, and we also need greater investment in lifelong learning to help adults adapt to the changing labour market.’
Having said all that, a man called Russell Jones, chairman of a business group known as Mansfield 2020, isn’t having any of it, believing as he does that his town is adjusting itself to the ways of automation.
Said he: ‘Jobs being automated has been happening in Mansfield for the past 20 years. Our future will be somewhat different to the picture portrayed in this report.’
So, plenty to think about. Now let’s ask a big question: imagine a future where virtually every single role currently filled by a human was easily facilitated by an AI-driven robot. In that situation, what would humans be for?
Bit heavy for a Monday afternoon? Probably, but any answers will be, as always, gratefully received.