Sectors with the highest proportion of jobs at risk of automation are transport and storage (56%), manufacturing (46%) and wholesale and retail trade (44%), according to the latest PwC Economic Outlook.
“An even bigger long term challenge than Brexit could relate to our estimate that around 10 million existing UK jobs could be at high risk of automation by the early 2030s” John Hawksworth, chief UK economist at PwC said.
However, he is positive for the future, “We should not be too gloomy about this since automation will also boost productivity, and increase wealth.”
Kirstin Gillon, technical manager at ICAEW's IT Faculty is also optimistic, “We see AI and automation as great opportunities for accountants to add more value to businesses and clients – freeing up time for more valuable work and providing new insights from data.”
She explains how automation can be considered in two stages – short/medium term opportunities and longer-term threats.
“In the longer-term, we do recognise the risk to jobs across the economy from these powerful technologies, including the accountancy profession. This will lead to very different ways of working with machines to exploit the best of both worlds - artificial and human intelligence,” said Gillon.
Those within industries most likely to be effected will need to integrate these systems into the current workforce to lessen the impact.
“The profession needs to be open to radical change, driven by the value it offers to economies and societies and focused on the unique skills that accountants bring,” she added.
PwC says that the government should look to equip the future workforce with the skills needed to adapt. Education and skills training to work in this new environment should be priority.