NZ ready to repel the robot invasion

Will robots really steal our jobs?

According to PWC, New Zealand is “among the most prepared countries for the coming waves of automation,” not through any initiatives to plan for robotisation, but simply because it has a very high percentage of the workforce in jobs that will not easily be taken over by robots.

The findings come from a new global PWC report “Will robots really steal our jobs?” It found New Zealand had the sixth-lowest share of jobs that are at high risk of automation.

“New Zealand is part of a small group of countries, along with the Nordic countries and Greece, where the workforce is concentrated in industries with relatively lower potential automation rates, and the roles workers hold are also on average less automatable,” PWC said.

According to PWC, across the 29 countries covered, the share of jobs at potential high risk of automation is around three percent by the early 2020s, but this rises to almost 20 percent by the late 2020s, and 30 percent by the mid-2030s. It estimates the mid 2030s figure for New Zealand will be 24 percent.

Andy Symons, innovation partner at PwC New Zealand said the findings were no cause for complacency. “Both businesses and government should be developing strategies around retraining options for workers and building an education system that allows us to replace jobs that are lost through automation,” he said.

“The data suggests New Zealand has the opportunity to continue creating jobs for people as the world navigates through the coming waves of automation.”

PWC identifies three waves of automation

- the automation of simple computational tasks and analysis of structured data, affecting data-driven sectors such as financial services, which will run until the early 2020s;

- dynamic interaction with technology for clerical support and decision making, including robotic tasks in semi-controlled environments such as moving objects in warehouses, which will run until the late 2020s.

- the automation of physical labour and manual dexterity, and problem solving in dynamic real-world situations that require responsive actions, such as in transport and construction, in the mid to late 2030s.

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