Nearly a third of jobs in some northern towns and cities could be replaced by technology by 2030, new research has found.
The analysis, which predicts up to a fifth of jobs in urban areas are under threat from Industry 4.0, comes as Unite women members gather in Blackpool tomorrow (January 31) to discuss the disproportionate dangers automation poses to women’s jobs.
Sunderland, Mansfield and Wakefield are likely to be hit by job losses of 29 per cent due to automation and increased globalisation, according to the Centre for Cities think tank.
More than a quarter of jobs in Doncaster, Blackburn, Northampton and Stoke are also at a risk from new developments in robotics and artificial intelligence.
The South will experience job losses as well, the report said, although the percentage of jobs affected are predicted to be less severe.
Oxford and Cambridge will potentially lose 13 per cent of roles from automation, while London could lose 16 per cent, according to the analysis.
The rise of new technologies will also lead to new jobs, the think tank said. But it noted that in areas at risk from the biggest job losses, much of the new work is likely to be low-skilled.
Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter said government intervention is needed to grasp the “huge opportunities” presented by automation.
“National and local leaders need to ensure that people in cities across the North and Midlands can share in the benefits these changes could offer,” Mr Carter said.
“That means reforming the education system to give young people the cognitive and interpersonal skills they need to thrive in the future, and improving school standards, especially in places where jobs are most at risk.”
Unite leader Len McCluskey said the report, “underlines why automation must be socially controlled and planned so its benefits are reaped by us all”.
He added, “The Unite Organising department has taken the lead in developing strategies to safeguard the future of jobs and communities.”
Many of the roles most at risk, including those in retail, customer services, health, financial services, local authorities and civil air transport, are in sectors where a disproportionate amount of women are employed.
At Unite’s equalities conference in Blackpool tomorrow (January 31), leading women activists will discuss how women’s jobs will likely be affected by new technology and artificial intelligence.
Force for good?
Unite executive officer, Sharon Graham, said while it was true that women face the biggest threat from automation, “in the right hands new technology could be a force for good”.
“Unite is developing a political and industrial strategy to build a future that works for women. New technology is going to generate a lot of wealth,” Graham said.
“We will fight for women to escape the sticky floor of low paid work, and to make sure this wealth is used to do things that help women and their families, such as reducing working time without loss of pay.”