Consulting firm McKinsey’s latest jobs report found that up to one-third of work activities could be displaced by 2030, with advanced companies mostly like to be the worst affected due to their higher wage rates and economic incentives to automate as a result.
The firm said that up to 375 million workers would have to switch occupational categories and learn new skills to find employment.
Moreover, it warned that all workers will need to adapt in the future, in order to develop higher educational attainment and spend more time on activities requiring social and emotional skills, creativity, high-level cognitive capabilities and other skills that are difficult to automate.
However, the demand for work and workers could increase as economies grow, the report pointed out, helped by productivity growth enabled by technological progress.
Accountants are expected to see the highest percentage of job growth net of automation, as well as health-care providers, engineers, scientists and analysts.
In advanced countries, employment is also expected to decline in occupations that are most susceptible to automation, including finance and accounting, office support occupations, and customer interaction jobs such as hotel and travel workers, cashiers, and food service workers.
“The question is not so much whether there will be enough work to go around in the future, but how individuals, sectors, and entire countries will navigate the complicated workforce transitions that automation will entail in the years ahead,” said Susan Lund, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute.
“The coming workforce disruptions could match the scale of the epic historical shifts out of agriculture and manufacturing—and could possibly occur at a faster pace.”
The report said that employers should prioritise upgrading workforce skills and creating opportunities for midcareer job retraining; improving labour market dynamics such as job matching; and providing income and benefits support for workers caught in the cross-currents of automation.