Wigan has 50 per cent chance of losing jobs to automation
A new study suggests the borough is at particularly high risk as robots replace human workers.
Electrical Direct, which supplies products to tradesmen, looked at data covering some 20 million jobs in the UK and considered which were routine and repetitive enough that there was a chance an algorithm could be written to perform the task.
And alarmingly, Wigan came out on top of the national league table, with a 50 per cent chance of losing jobs to technology.
The study as a whole is bad news for the post-industrial north of England, with other areas at most risk including Doncaster, Sunderland and Gateshead and the furthest south of the top 10 cities or towns at risk being Stoke on Trent.
Electrical Direct says automation currently poses an existential risk to the UK jobs market and Covid has sped up the trend of looking at where machinery can replace humans in work.
Dominick Sandford, director at ElectricalDirect, said: “No longer the stuff of fantasy, the technological revolution has brought within reach what many sci-fi writers long predicted - an automated workforce led by AI enabled robots.
“It may not look or feel quite how it was imagined, with Covid-19 ushering in many forms of automated services which may already seem like they’ve been here forever.
“However, in the long term, such huge technological leaps forward in the way our services are provided and consumer demands are met could change the entire nature of our workforce and our entire economy.”
Electrical Direct says Wigan has a large number of jobs which require minimal training and are routine in nature, meaning they could just as effectively be performed by smart technology and machines.
Unsurprisingly roles such as shelf stacking in shops feature towards the top of the list of careers in most danger of being sacrificed to the march of the machines.
In recent years critics opposing the creation of huge logistics warehouses in Wigan have argued that these hubs will only employ people for a short period of time before the roles are replaced by robots.
However, Electrical Direct says waitresses, waiters and bar staff are also among the jobs which are likely to go.
While the idea of robot waiters bringing drinks and meals to tables or even machines being able to pour a perfect pint of ale may seem far-fetched, the company says the coronavirus pandemic has already pushed the hospitality sector further towards increasing use of technology, with apps to order, touch-screen menus and contactless being the preferred method of payment for many places.
Retail is also thought to be at risk, with Electrical Direct citing the likes of Amazon Fresh which already has stores where there are no cashiers or tills, with technology being used to take the payments.
The firm also pointed out that self-service tills without cashiers and scan-as-you-shop arrangements are now commonplace in supermarkets.
With technology continuing to come up with developments that could potentially lessen the need for a human workforce, the business said consumer and buyer preferences will be important in the future as businesses work out whether to employ people, bring in machinery or use a mixture of both.
By contrast, medical practitioners and teachers are among those whose jobs are thought to be safest from the risk of automation.
To see the full study, visit www.electricaldirect.co.uk/blog/robots-taking-over-jobs
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