Half of Europe’s Jobs Threatened by Machines in U.S. Echo

If you think the euro area has a hiring problem now with double-digit unemployment, wait until the future hits.

Fifty-four percent of jobs in the 28-member European Union are at risk of advances in computerization, according to a study by economist Jeremy Bowles published by Bruegel, a Brussels-based research organization.

Inspired by research from Carl Frey and Michael Osborne of Oxford University, Bowles sought to calculate how many jobs were prone to technological advances across Europe. His number-crunching came up with 40 percent to more than 60 percent, depending on the country.

That compares with the September 2013 finding of Frey and Osborne that 47 percent of Americans in 2010 ranked in the risky category, meaning their roles could possibly be automated over the next decade or two.

Northern countries such as the U.K., Germany and France have a computerization risk level similar to that in the U.S., found Bowles, who works at the International Growth Centre based at the London School of Economics.

Bowles said it was unsurprising that those in peripheral economies such as Italy will suffer the most given Frey and Osborne’s findings that developments in machine learning and mobile robotics will hurt low-wage, low-skill sectors previously immune from technological breakthroughs.

That said, the effect may be moderated by the fact such countries have historically adopted technology more slowly than their neighbors, he said.

“If we believe that technology will be able to overcome traditional hurdles among non-routine cognitive tasks then we must equip the next generation of workers with skills that benefit technology rather than being threatened by it,” said Bowles.

(For more Economy Line insights, see NI ECOLINE.)
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