26 July 2018

A new report suggests that artificial Intelligence (AI) and related technologies will create as many jobs as they displace in the UK over the next 20 years.

Published in the latest Economic Outlook from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the analysis predicts that there will be both winners and losers as AI becomes more widely used.

Although the overall effect on employment in the UK is estimated to be broadly neutral, there will be significant sectoral differences, the report (which is available at https://pwc.to/2utd3QK) argues.

The largest net increases in jobs will be seen in health (+22%), professional, scientific and technical services (+16%) and education (+6%).

Other sectors are, however, likely to see a net long-term decrease in jobs due to AI, with manufacturing (-25%), transport and storage (-22%) and public administration (-18%) among the hardest hit.

On balance, AI and related technologies are projected to displace some seven million existing jobs and to create around 7.2 million.

According to Euan Cameron, UK AI leader at PwC, it is likely that the fourth industrial revolution will favour those with strong digital skills, as well as capabilities such as creativity and teamwork which machines find it harder to replicate.

Among a number of recommendations, PwC proposes that the Government should invest more in STEAM skills that will be most useful to people in an increasingly automated world.

STEAM refers to the familiar STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to which are added art and design.

Governments should also encourage workers to continually update and adapt their skills so as to complement what machines can do – and should strengthen the safety net for those who find it hard to adjust to technological changes.

Finally, PwC recommends that both central and local government should support sectors that can generate new jobs, such as by focusing on university research centres, science parks and other enablers of business growth.