Quarter of business services jobs at risk of automation in the next 20 years, survey says

More than a quarter of jobs in the business services sector are at high risk of automation in the next 20 years, according to a report by Deloitte. This is largely a result of the falling cost of technology combined with the rising cost of labour.

Of the 3,300,000 jobs currently classed as business services, 800,000 (25%) to 1 million (31%) have a high chance of being automated. This figure is lower than the national total (36%), highlighting that the business services sector is less exposed than other areas of the UK economy. In addition, almost half of business services jobs are at low risk of automation (45%) with the remainder in the medium risk category.


Accelerating change

The pace of automation is expected to increase exponentially over the next few decades, said the business advisory firm, as business services companies consider the full potential of intelligent automation, both as a way of improving operational efficiency and quality standards, and in order to innovate to remain competitive.

Deloitte’s analysis shows that with labour costs set to rise for the next five years, in part due to the recent introduction of the National Living Wage, rising costs, price competition and their impact on margins are likely to lead to a renewed focus on productivity and efficiency in the sector.

Simon Barnes, financial transformation partner at Deloitte, said: “The business services workforce in the UK will fundamentally change over the next ten to twenty years. Repetitive and highly structured job roles are likely to be reduced, while new, higher-skilled roles will be created. As automation becomes increasingly more cognitive and less robotic, the business services sector must move fast to make sure they recruit and retrain people with the right skills and knowledge to address this.”

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