More than two in every five jobs in Wealden could be lost to automation in the future, new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) says technology will replace some occupations, but also bring new and more technical jobs.
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New ONS data shows that 48,000 jobs in Wealden, measured in 2017, could be partially or totally replaced by machines over the coming years.
That’s 43 per cent of the occupations in the area.
Of them, 67 per cent were at medium risk, which means the probability of them being replaced by machines is between 30 per cent and 70 per cent.
The threat was low for a further 27 per cent of jobs.
That means Wealden was less vulnerable to the impact of automation in 2017 than six years earlier, when 46 per cent of jobs were at risk of being replaced by machines.
An ONS spokesperson said: “The exact reasons for the decrease in the proportion of roles at risk of automation are unclear, but it is possible that automation of some jobs has already happened.
“For instance, self-checkouts at supermarkets are now a common sight, reducing the need to have as many employees working at checkouts.
“Additionally, while the overall number of jobs has increased, the majority of these are in occupations that are at low or medium risk, suggesting that the labour market may be changing to jobs that require more complex and less routine skills.”
Felicity Burch, the CBI’s director of innovation and digital, said technology is predominantly putting jobs held by women, and low-skilled occupations, at risk.
She said: “The picture is complicated, as ONS’s own analysis shows that some of the roles most at risk of automation saw a boost in recent years.
“Furthermore, we know that the more businesses invest in new technology, the more likely they are to create new roles.
“If we are to capture the benefits, there are two fundamental things to get right – encouraging further investment and making sure that people have the digital skills they need to get the new jobs that the future will bring.”
The ONS analysed the jobs of 20 million people across England in 2017 and found that 7.4 per cent were at high risk of being replaced.
And 70 per cent of the roles at high risk of automation are currently held by women.
People aged 20 to 24 years old are most likely to be at risk of having their job replaced, and low-skilled occupations, like waiting or shelf stacking, face the highest risk.
Jobs requiring higher qualifications, such as medical practitioners and higher education teachers, are less susceptible to computerisation.
• Report by Miguel Rodriguez, data reporter