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Robots seen taking 30 percent of UK jobs with women at lower risk - study

by Sally Hayden | @sallyhayd | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 24 March 2017 14:15 GMT

A robot is displayed at the Robotics Innovation Center booth during preparations at the CeBit computer fair, which will open its doors to the public on March 20, at the fairground in Hanover, Germany, March 18, 2017.

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The high number of women in sectors requiring social skills like education and health means women are at lower risk of losing their job

By Sally Hayden

LONDON, March 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Up to one-third of British jobs could be taken over by robots by the early 2030s, impacting 10 million Britons but with women less likely to face redundancy, a UK study showed on Friday.

The research, by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, found 30 percent of UK jobs could face automation compared to 38 percent in the United States, 35 percent in Germany, and 21 percent in Japan.

Researchers, however, said this wouldn't necessarily lead to less employment as jobs may change rather than disappear.

But the distinction between men and women was clear, with PwC estimating 35 percent of men's jobs were at risk compared to 26 percent of women's because of the high number of women in sectors requiring social skills like education and health.

Male workers are also more concentrated in jobs requiring lower education levels, like transportation and manufacturing.

PwC Chief Economist John Hawksworth said in the future employees of both genders will "have to be more adaptable, not stuck in the stereotypes".

He said this could present an opportunity for men and women to break down traditional gender gaps and progress in careers, provided they can upskill or access training opportunities.

"The whole thing has become more fluid," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

However, it was uncertain whether these changes would have any impact on the gender pay gap. Figures from the UK's Office of National Statistics show on average women earned about 18 percent less than men in Britain in 2016.

(Reporting by Sally Hayden @sallyhayd, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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