The robots are coming! 12 million jobs lost to automation in Europe by 2040 – analyst

Ageing populations, competition, cost-cutting and COVID-19 driving increased adoption


Across Europe, 12 million jobs will be lost by 2040 through automation technologies, according to analyst firm Forrester Research.

With the pandemic increasing the adoption of digital technologies in business, the region is forecast to embrace automation to address its demographic challenges, the analyst said in a new report. By 2050, the five leading economies in Europe – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK – are expected to have 30 million fewer people of working age.

The report also mentioned that investments in automation will become key to how European governments look at their competitiveness.

Forrester points out healthcare and pensions will still need to be paid at a higher rate. Infrastructure and other services would need continued funding too, with potentially lower tax receipts.

One part the report did not highlight is the irony inherent in the idea that automation would then become part of Europe's response to losing not only the taxes due from those from those who simply won't exist because of the upcoming demographic crunch, but also lost taxes from low-end jobs (that would have been paid by the workers who've been usurped by machines).

The researchers said that by 2035, about one in four people will be 65 or older, up from one in 13 in 1950; by 2060, this will rise to one in three.

Green energy and digital technologies could help offset the jobs lost to automation, Forrester added.

Mid-skill labour jobs that consist of simple, routine tasks in retail, food services, leisure, and hospitality are most at risk from automation.

According to Forrester, "workers with little bargaining power are most at risk of displacement, especially in countries where many are subject to casual employment contracts, including zero-hour contracts in the UK, which require no guaranteed working hours, or part-time jobs with low wages, such as 'mini-jobs' in Germany."

Routine jobs make up 38 per cent of the workforce in Germany, 34 per cent in France, and 31 per cent in the UK, the study said.

Michael O'Grady, principal forecast analyst at Forrester, argued that the fall in productivity due to COVID-19 would force organisations to automate manual processes and improve remote work.

"The pandemic is just one factor that will shape the future of work in Europe over the next two decades, however. European organisations are also in a particularly strong position to embrace automation because of Europe's declining working-age population and the high number of routine low-skilled jobs that can be easily automated.

"Automation will subsequently become integral to how European governments and employers look at their competitiveness and manage their older demographic," he said.

Forrester said that robotic process automation (RPA) – using software to automate screen-based office tasks – was taking a lead role and growing rapidly. The RPA market was valued at $17bn in 2019, it said, while 21 per cent of European leaders said their organisation would use RPA in 2021.

Investors are certainly seeing the appeal of automation technologies. RPA specialist UiPath was valued at around $35.8bn at its IPO last year. UK RPA specialist Blue Prism agreed to a £1.243bn cash bid by Bolt Bidco, the subsidiary of tech holdings SS&C that trumped a £1.1bn offer from Vista Equity Partners in December last year.

Meanwhile, established application vendors have been conducting something of a me-too mission with regard to automation. Application big-hitters Oracle and SAP are among the software companies to launch RPA-like features in the last couple of years.

In a separate report, Forrester has said there will be only one eventual winner among application vendors in the RPA race – and that would be Microsoft. ®

Similar topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022