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Bloody robots! 860k public sector jobs to be automated by 2030, say researchers

Yeah yeah. Humanity is unnecessary. We're sick of experts shoving it in our faces

Robot as person illustration via Shutterstock

Once upon a time a public sector job was a golden ticket: little actual work, less accountability, and a job for life. Not any longer.

According to research by Deloitte, building on its previous work with the University of Oxford about job automation, up to 861,000 public sector jobs could be automated by 2030.

In just over a decade, 16 per cent of the overall workforce could be unemployed as the machines continue to rise while we fickle and vain folk believe the notional distance between now and the singularity will protect us.

The public sector is somewhat protected from the automation revolution, with a high number of roles in education and caring and other jobs involving public interaction, but Deloitte reckons automation could still lead to £17bn in public sector wage cost cuts by 2030.

Almost three quarters of jobs in transportation and storage, 59 per cent of positions in wholesale and retail, and a further 56 per cent in manufacturing, are likely to be made obsolete by automation.

Despite that degree of insularity, the public sector workforce is a sprawling empire with 1.3 million jobs in administrative and operative roles, in which according to Deloitte the "activities are most repetitive and predictable". If you work there, you've got a 77 per cent probability of being replaced by a tincandroid.

Even the 2.6 million workers, 52 per cent of the workforce, engaged in interactive roles requiring a high degree of personal interaction (including teachers, social workers and police officers) face a 23 per cent probability of becoming automated.

A million workers, a fifth of the workforce, are in cognitive roles that mostly require strategic thinking and complex reasoning. These folk, including finance directors and chief executives, have a 14 per cent chance of being automated.

Mike Turley, global head of public sector at Deloitte, said: "Across all sectors of the economy, technological advances mean that repetitive and predictable tasks are increasingly undertaken by robots – either in the form of software or devices. The public sector is no different.

"We are already seeing examples of technology playing a role in the public sector. Robotic processes are supporting local government in their data entry, driverless trains are becoming more widespread and sensor technology is being used in hospitals and care homes to monitors patients and give nurses and carers more time for quality patient interaction."

Now that the Civil Service knows it's under threat, let's see how long it takes for this to enter the legislative agenda. ®

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