How will AI transform the UK’s job landscape?

IPPR Report emphasises the prospect of an AI ‘apocalypse,’ which may result in the loss of over 8 million jobs in the UK, stressing the urgent need for proactive measures to minimize the growing workforce changes.

AI artificial intelligence concept - robot hands typing on lit keyboard

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) released its report, ‘Transformed by AI’, signalling a potential structural change in the employment sector due to the advancements in artificial intelligence (AI). This analysis highlights the critical juncture with the rapid progression of generative AI technologies. 

The document ventures into the ongoing discussion regarding the effects of automation on employment, suggesting that the swift uptake of generative AI might pave the way for unprecedented changes.

The IPPR’s findings suggest that up to 8 million positions in the UK could be endangered by automation, with women, younger employees, and lower-wage earners as the most susceptible groups.

The first wave of AI adoption 

The emergence of generative AI, characterized by its ability in generating text, code, and demonstrating high-level reasoning, is already making significant inroads into the UK’s economic framework. The IPPR report highlights the susceptibility of entry-level, part-time, and administrative roles to automation facilitated by generative AI technologies. These technologies, capable of understanding and creating text, data, and software, present a formidable challenge to conventional job functions. Notably, the analysis warns of a gender disparity in automation’s impact, with women at a higher risk due to their overrepresentation in jobs most exposed to automation.

The second wave of AI adoption

The report also signals a looming, more pronounced impact during the next phase of AI integration. As businesses begin to integrate AI more deeply into their operations, covering non-routine tasks which would affect higher-earning jobs, an urgent discussion about the workforce’s future and the necessity for strategic interventions becomes pressing. 

Policy Responses to Mitigate AI’s Impact

The trajectory of these developments, as the IPPR report suggests, will largely depend on the immediate policy decisions and strategic planning. 

The IPPR report calls for a job-centric industrial strategy for AI, focusing on protecting jobs, fostering the creation of new roles, and addressing the fallout from automation. This strategy includes recommendations like ring-fencing certain tasks to ensure they remain human-centric, adjusting fiscal policies to encourage job augmentation over replacement, and exploring new avenues for job creation in sectors less susceptible to automation, such as green jobs and social care.

Carsten Jung, senior economist at IPPR, emphasizes that “Technology isn’t destiny, and a jobs apocalypse is not inevitable [..] Government, employers, and unions have the opportunity to make crucial design decisions now that ensure we manage this new technology well. “