28% of young UK workers' jobs 'at risk of automation'

Retail and wholesale industries will be worst affected, PwC says

Almost a third of young workers could lose their jobs by the 2030s as automation reduces the need for manpower, a report by PwC has revealed.

The consultancy explained the wholesale and retail industry, where nearly a quarter of 16-24-year-olds work, could be the worst hit by automation. PwC predicted that up to 44% of those employed in the sector could lose their jobs as a result of technology.

Although there will be more opportunity for young people to become more involved in the robotics and automation industry if their current roles are at threat, only 4% of those aged between 16 and 24 are employed in that particular sector as it stands, leaving a big skills gap.

"Our research shows that the impact of technology advances on jobs will be felt more profoundly by some groups than others, with education level a key differentiator," said Jon Andrews, head of technology and investment at PwC UK. "As new technology advances bring innovation we need to be careful that the impact of this is progressive and does not create barriers. Businesses have a critical role to play in creating the jobs and helping the UK workforce build the skills of the future."

The report added that up to 30% of all jobs across the UK could become automated over the next 15 years and it's vital young people receive the training and education to ensure they can find alternative roles less affected by automation.

"Empowering young workers to succeed in an increasingly automated world will be crucial to the long-term success of the UK economy," Hawksworth said. "The government has already taken positive steps in recent years with initiatives to boost vocational training and apprenticeships, but an increased focus on STEM skills will help to close the technology gap with leading international economies and maximise the economic and employment benefits of automation."

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