UK Faces AI Apocalypse: 8 Million Jobs at Risk

Key Takeaways

  • Recent study raises concerns about AI's impact on UK job market.
  • UK economy already susceptible to automation, with back office, entry-level, and part-time jobs most vulnerable.
  • Report warns of potential loss of 7.9 million jobs.

A recent study has raised concerns about AI’s potential impact on the job market in the UK, suggesting that as many as eight million jobs could be at risk.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) study on 22,000 jobs in the UK economy found that 11% of tasks currently performed by workers are already susceptible to automation.

The research identified back office, entry-level, and part-time jobs as most at risk in the initial wave of AI adoption. It also indicated that women and young people will likely be primarily affected. Without government intervention, the study suggests that up to 59% of tasks could be automated, posing a particular threat to low-skilled workers.

In what the IPPR describes as the “worst-case scenario,” this shift could result in losing 7.9 million jobs, with no corresponding benefit to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

However, the report also outlined a more optimistic scenario, in which effective management of the transition to AI through a “job-centric industrial strategy for AI” focused on regulation, fiscal policy measures, and support for green jobs could mitigate these effects.

The report also warned of a second wave of AI adoption, which could affect non-routine tasks such as database creation, copywriting, and graphic design, impacting increasingly higher-earning jobs. Women, who are more likely to work in the most exposed occupations, such as secretarial and administrative roles, would be particularly affected.

Carsten Jung, a senior economist at the IPPR, commented on the findings, stating: “Generative AI could lead to significant labor market disruption or it could greatly boost economic growth. Either way, it is set to be a game changer for millions of us.”

While the UK government has not yet introduced any standard legislation specifically addressing the rise of AI, it recently announced plans to invest nearly £90m in new AI research hubs. These hubs will partner with the US to explore responsible uses of AI in various fields nationwide.