AI ‘will make 5 million people redundant by 2020’

Financial sector and low-skilled workers most at risk, says WEF

Around five million jobs could disappear by 2020, as advancements in artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology and other fields rock businesses worldwide.

Dubbing it the "fourth industrial revolution", the World Economic Forum (WEF) has predicted that developments in technology will "lay the foundation for a revolution more comprehensive and all-encompassing than anything we have ever seen".

The casualties of this revolution will be people whose jobs can be replaced by sufficiently-skilled software and hardware, with financial services the industry most at risk of disruption, while low-skilled workers will face widespread redundancy, according to WEF's The Future of Jobs report.

It warned: "It is simply not possible to weather the current technological revolution by waiting for the next generation's workforce to become better prepared.

"To prevent a worst-case scenariotechnological change accompanied by talent shortages, mass unemployment and growing inequalityreskilling and upskilling of today's workers will be critical."

Overall, 7.1 million jobs will be lost by 2020, WEF estimated, mainly within office and administration roles. While another two million high-skilled jobs will be created, people whose jobs are lost as a result of the revolution will not be able to fill these roles.

While men will lose 2.65 million jobs, and women 2.45 million jobs, men will gain one job for every three jobs lost, compared to one job gained for every five jobs lost for women.

The report read: "The conclusion is clear. If current industry gender gap trends persist women are at risk of losing out on tomorrow's best job opportunities."

It recommended companies should provide more support for women to join the highest ranks, offer better work-life balances, and ensure management policies do not discriminate between genders.

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