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A quarter of Brits expect their jobs to be replaced by tech

A quarter of UK workers are worried their jobs will disappear because of automation and a third expect the technology to change their jobs for the worse

Over a third (37%) of UK workers are concerned their jobs will be negatively affected by automation by 2028.

An online survey of 1,000 workers in Great Britain for the trade union Community and Fabian Society projected that 10 million people were worried their jobs would change for the worse.

The survey, which looked at workers’ views and expectations about technology, also reported that almost a quarter (23%) of workers were worried that their current job might not exist in 10 years due to automation.

“The digital revolution means technology and jobs are changing faster than ever,” said Yvette Cooper MP, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, who will chair a two-year commission to identify the immediate actions that government, employers and trade unions need to take to support workers as new technology affects their job functions.

“This survey found that almost a quarter of workers are worried that their job will no longer be needed,” she said.

“And whilst it found that most people are optimistic that they will be able to change and update their skills, they also say they are not getting any help or support to train or adapt, [either] from the government, their employer or a trade union.

“It is vital that action is taken now to ensure changing technology doesn’t widen inequality and to make sure all workers feel the benefits,” said Cooper.

Commenting on the survey results, Roy Rickhuss, general secretary of Community, said: “These figures should serve as a wake-up call for all trade unions. The vast majority of workers in unionised workplaces do not believe we are supporting them to cope with technological change.

“Automation cannot simply be opposed, rather it should be made to work in the interests of working people. Our members are already dealing with the consequences of automation being managed badly. Government and businesses need to step up too, but trade unions have a central role to play.

Read more about automation

  • Organisations often can’t take advantage of advances in digital technology due to the lack of interoperability in their IT systems in different facilities, but open standards promise a way forward.
  • IT administrators anticipate that artificial intelligence and automation will only affect mundane tasks, freeing up 19% of their workloads.

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Change requires more change. For example: The transition from horse drawn carriages to cars wasn’t smooth and it certainly didn’t happen overnight, in fact there is a lot of ambiguity on who invented the first car and when. Although cars might seem the norm today, the march of progress were neither straight nor technologically preordained. The invention of cars impacted every aspect of human society. It led to the downfall of horse drawn carriage taxis, but because there were less horses, the streets were cleaner from horse manure. It didn’t just take away jobs but created so many, as new roads had to be built, new road rules agreed, and jobs created to ensure the rules were obeyed. Fuel production, gas stations, parking, the environmental impact, the list goes on. And with driverless cars the new darling of Silicon Valley, cars today remain an unappreciated but crucial component of our modern landscape.

We live among a generation that has a digital footprint even before birth, who are used to living in a blurring swirl of information overload and who can change their love life with a simple swipe to the right. As humans, we’re possibly the species most adaptable to change. Why then are we threatened at the thought of the drastic advancement of AI type technologies?