The UK’s next general election will most likely be dominated by the issue of immigration, one of the main catalysts for the fabled Brexit decision earlier this year. Many British people have been afraid that a rising number of immigrants will take their jobs, yet it looks like immigrants aren’t where they should be focusing their fear. According to a new report published by Oxford, it looks like robots are more likely than immigrants to steal jobs.
The report claims that technology and robotics will most likely replace 35% of existing jobs in the UK, with lower-paying jobs much more likely to be replaced than higher-paying jobs. Unless this change can be fully understood and anticipated by businesses, policy-makers and educators, this could lead to a major problem with unemployment and under-employment. However, the report also suggested that in London, 73% of businesses are planning on increasing their overall headcount to bring in new skills and roles. Nonetheless, failure to put the correct educational elements in place to retrain people for these new jobs could lead to a massive issue in the future, not just in Britain but in the world.
This echoes another era in world history that featured major technological change: the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th century. New technology led to the development of factories, and much of the work that was once done by hand was replaced by machines. It was accompanied by an agricultural revolution, where new technology replaced the work that farm hands traditionally did. Many found their professions obsolete, leading to a huge amount of tension and resentment. Even as many found themselves out of a job, many factories had a severe labor shortage. So while the Industrial Revolution did make a lot of peoples’ jobs obsolete, it also created a lot of jobs, just jobs that required people to adapt. This is what I think will most likely happen with technology in the modern era: people will have their jobs taken away by robots, but this new technology will also create new jobs and professions. It’s just a matter of adapting to it.