‘AI and related technologies should create as many jobs as they displace’ – PwC

As many as one in five public administration jobs will go, warns the consultancy, though health and some other public sector jobs could actually end up needing more workers as the economy gets changed

Posted 6 August 2018 by

AI and related technologies such as robotics, drones and driverless vehicles could displace many jobs formerly done by humans – but will also create many additional jobs as productivity and real incomes rise and new and better products are developed.

Thus respected consultancy PwC, which also believes that what it dubs “these countervailing displacement and income effects on employment” are likely to broadly balance each other out over the next 20 years in the UK.

That would mean that the share of existing jobs displaced by AI – which could be as high as 20%, it believes – are “likely to be approximately equal to the additional jobs that are created”, it believes.

The sectors PwC thinks will see the largest net increase in jobs due to AI over the next 20 years are also ones with strong public sector representation: health (+22%), professional, scientific and technical services(+16%) and education (+6%).

However, it thinks as many as 18% of “public administration” roles could go, thanks to AI – a sector as badly affected as manufacturing (-25%) and transport and storage (-22%).

To help ameliorate such negative effects, policymakers should be looking to implement a number of countermeasures, such as “boosting” research funding, ensuring competition is adequate to ensure productivity gains are passed on to consumers and/or mitigating the costs of such reconstruction, like a national retraining programme for displaced workers.

It would also like to see “renewed efforts by schools and universities to build STEAM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics] skills”.

The predictions are part of a recently-published special study by the consultancy on factors that could affect the UK’s economy, which also states that UK growth will remain modest, at around 1.3% in 2018 and 1.6% in 2019, due to continued subdued real consumer spending growth and the drag on business investment from ongoing economic and political uncertainty relating to the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.