IPPR Report Warns of Potential Job Losses in UK Due to AI Advancements

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Younger Workers, and Lower-Wage Earners at Greatest Risk

In a stark warning issued by The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), it's been revealed that nearly 8 million jobs in the United Kingdom could be in jeopardy due to advancements in artificial intelligence (AI).

The IPPR report paints a grim picture of what it terms a "jobs apocalypse," highlighting the vulnerability of certain demographics and job sectors to automation.

According to the report, entry-level positions, part-time roles, and administrative jobs are particularly susceptible to being replaced by AI technologies within the next three to five years. The IPPR's analysis suggests that the ongoing adoption of generative AI, capable of tasks ranging from reading and creating text to handling software code, poses a significant risk to traditional employment structures.

The report describes a "sliding doors" moment for the UK economy, as an increasing number of companies embrace AI to automate routine workplace tasks. This initial wave of AI adoption has already begun to impact jobs, with further automation expected in a second wave driven by rapid technological advancements.

Drawing from an analysis of 22,000 tasks across various sectors, the IPPR estimates that 11% of tasks currently performed by workers are at risk of automation. However, this figure could soar to 59% in the second wave of AI adoption, as technologies evolve to tackle more complex processes.

Routine cognitive tasks such as database management, scheduling, and stocktaking are already identified as vulnerable areas, potentially displacing entry-level and part-time roles in secretarial work, administration, and customer services. The second wave of AI adoption could extend to non-routine tasks like database creation, copywriting, and graphic design, impacting higher-earning positions.

Of particular concern is the disproportionate impact on women, who are more likely to work in occupations deemed most exposed to automation, such as secretarial and administrative roles.

In the worst-case scenario projected by the report, up to 7.9 million jobs could be displaced by AI advancements, with potential gains in productivity offset by stagnant economic growth. However, the IPPR outlines a more optimistic scenario where full augmentation of the workforce with generative AI could lead to no job losses and a significant boost to the economy, potentially increasing GDP by 4% annually, equivalent to approximately £92 billion.

As the debate over the implications of AI on the workforce intensifies, policymakers and businesses are urged to consider strategies to mitigate the potential negative impacts, ensuring a smooth transition to an AI-driven future while safeguarding employment opportunities for all segments of society.


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