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Automation could replace over a million UK jobs this year

(Image credit: Shutterstock / ioat)

The pandemic and consequent lockdowns have accelerated the adoption of artificial intelligence (opens in new tab) (AI)-powered business automation tools in the UK, a report from SaaS analytics platform Faethm AI claims.

The report states that these AI tools could leave 1.4 million UK employees (or 4.8 percent of the workforce) out of work this year.

According to Faethm AI, a large number of existing roles becoming redundant is a “potential by-product of technological change”. If the country is to capitalize on potential productivity gains, the government will need to retain, retrain and redeploy employees.

The report goes on to explain that wholesale and retail, as well as financial services industries, are most at risk. These two sectors each account for almost five million workers, almost a tenth (932,000 full-time roles) of which perform roles that could be automated.

Another potential problem is that job losses won’t be spread equally throughout the country. With 5.3 percent of potentially affected workers, Wales is most at risk, followed by Northern Ireland (5.2 percent) and North West England (5.1 percent).

But it’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to AI (opens in new tab) adoption. The report also says that technology could augment human work, allowing people to rid themselves of mundane tasks and focus more on creative aspects of their job.

Faethm claims that 2.9 percent of work in the UK could be improved with AI, resulting in a 1.3 percent capacity gain across the whole economy. This means work activities would take 1.3 percent less time to complete.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.