In about fifteen years from now about 30% of jobs will be exposed to a potentially high risk of automation, says PwC in a study of 200,000 workers and 29 countries, including Belgium, and published Tuesday . “On average, in the 29 countries studied, the proportion of jobs exposed to a potentially high risk of automation is estimated at around 3% in the early 2020s, but will rise to almost 20% by the end of the 2020s, before reaching about 30% in the mid-2030s,” says PwC.
The consulting firm has identified three waves of automation ahead. The first wave of algorithms has already begun and involves “an automation of structured data analysis and simple numerical tasks, such as establishing credit scores.” This wave of innovation could reach maturity in the early 2020s.
A second automation wave is also underway and is likely to reach full maturity later in the 2020s. It focuses on automation of repetitive tasks and information exchange, as well as on subsequent developments of aerial drones, robots in warehouses and semi-autonomous vehicles.
Finally, a third wave of autonomy could mature in the mid-2030s. It will see artificial intelligence increasingly able to analyze data from multiple sources, make decisions, and undertake physical actions without or with little human intervention.
“During this phase, fully autonomous driverless vehicles could, for example, be deployed on a large scale in all sectors of the economy,” notes PwC. For Belgium, 4% of jobs could potentially be automated in the first wave, 18% in the second wave and 30% in the third wave.
According to the study, more women could initially be affected by the growth of automation, while men are more likely to feel the effects in the third wave in the mid-2030s. This difference is related to the types of tasks that are more subject to automation and current patterns of employment by gender and sector.