According to the new “Future Of Jobs Forecast, 2020 To 2040 (Europe-5)” by IT analyst company Forrester, automation will most likely destroy 12 million jobs in Europe’s five largest economies by 2040. But instead of driving unemployment, this will help companies withstand a decline in the working-age population and will be counterbalanced by creating new green and digital jobs.
The automation of work, especially repetitive, predictable tasks, places 25% of jobs in the UK, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain at risk of elimination by 2040, Forrester estimates. The most likely scenario is that 12 million jobs – out of today’s total of 158 million jobs in the five countries – will disappear by that time, the analyst company predicts. Forrester says that job losses will be especially high in the wholesale, retail, transport, accommodation, and food services sectors, which have a high concentration of repetitive roles.
However, two factors mean that this will not significantly increase unemployment in these countries, Forrester says. The first is that Europe is facing a “demographic timebomb,” explains principal forecast analyst Michael O’Grady. The aging population in these five economies means they will have 30 million fewer working-age residents by 2040. This means that without automation, companies would struggle to fill roles and maintain productivity.
“Automation is not something you do to cut costs or reduce your workforce. Automation is a way to keep productivity high with fewer workers. It helps you fill the gap.”
Michael O’Grady, Senior Forecast Analyst, Forrester Research
Secondly, Forrester expects nine million new jobs to be created by 2040, thanks to digital transformation and the green revolution. These will be created in the construction and industrial sectors, to help build renewable energy capacity, green buildings, and smart infrastructure, and in professional services, to help companies adopt and exploit new digital technologies.
As a result, O’Grady says, “the net job losses from [automation] are actually fairly small.” When incorporating new job creation, the net loss of jobs in the five countries by 2040 will be less than 0.5%, Forrester predicts.
However, these new jobs will not be created overnight, Forrester warns. Governments will need to continue their investments in green jobs – the UK, for example, aims to create two million ‘green-collar’ jobs by 2030 – and develop digital skills. Europe already has a shortfall of half a million ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) professionals.