Future employment and automation

This is the first study of its kind to use pan-European data sources (the Eurofound Task analysis and the Cedefop Skills Forecasts 2018 datasets) to determine which occupations are at risk of automation.

The main purpose of this study is to raise awareness of the changes that the EU labour market will face as a result of the adoption of new technologies.

Future Employment and Automation” by economists Cornelia Suta, Luca Barbieri and Mike May-Gillings goes beyond simply providing a list of automatable occupations (occupations with high risk of automation) by providing an estimate of the share of future job openings in the EU at high risk of automation, therefore providing a better sense of the magnitude of the problem.

Key findings

The study finds that over the forecast period, the labour force in all age groups is expected to increase only in the higher educated group.

This future distribution of EU labour force by qualification is in line with the expected automation impacts on low and medium skilled jobs.

Over the 2016-2030 period, low and medium skilled workers will see a decrease in new jobs and will see a decrease driven by automation in some of the replacement jobs.

High skilled workers will see an increase in new jobs, but will also be affected to some degree by automation affecting replacement jobs.

Therefore, low and medium skilled workers will either need to upskill or they will have to compete for fewer jobs, possibly generating skills mismatches if medium skilled workers were to take low qualified jobs at the expense of low skilled workers.

Moreover, given the increasing trend in educational attainment, and that some jobs requiring high skills are at risk of being automated, highly educated workers might also face increased competition on the labour market. The increasing number of high skilled workers will possibly drive down wages if not enough jobs requiring high skills are being created.

In conclusion, policies aimed at increasing education, although needed, might not be sufficient to cope effectively with the impact of automation.

Related resources

The study is published in “Economy Employment, and Skills: European, Regional and Global Perspectives in an Age of Uncertainty“, edited by Terence Hogarth (published by Fondazione G. Brodolini).

Cornelia-Madalina Suta Principal Economist [email protected]