AI ‘Apocalypse’ Could Lead to 7.9 Million Job Losses in UK, Study Finds 

AI 'Apocalypse' Could Lead to 7.9 Million Job Losses in UK, Study Finds 

Up to 8 million workers in the United Kingdom could lose their jobs to AI with current government policy on the technology, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) warned.  

In a new report published Mar. 27, the institute says that part-time, entry level and back-office staff will be most affected. It includes administrative, personal assistants, and customer service roles.

Also read: IMF Warns AI May Impact 40% of Jobs, Increase Inequality 

AI disrupts labor market

The report identifies two stages of generative AI adoption: the first wave, which is here now, and a second wave where companies will integrate artificial intelligence more deeply into their processes.

The IPPR says generative AI already affects 11% of tasks done by workers in the UK in areas like database or inventory management. That figure could rise to 59% with further AI integration during the “second wave,” it said after analysing 22,000 jobs in the country.

Should this happen, the impact on the UK labor market will expand to include higher earning jobs like software development, graphic designers, finance officers, and others, the think tank adds.

But it is women, young people and those in low paying jobs such as secretaries, data entry clerks, and marketing professionals who are most at risk of being replaced by AI technology.

“Technology isn’t destiny and a jobs apocalypse is not inevitable,” Carsten Jung, a senior economist at IPPR, said.

“Government, employers and unions have the opportunity to make crucial design decisions now that ensure we manage this new technology well. If they don’t act soon, it may be too late,” he added.

In its study, London-based IPPR estimates that in the worst case scenario, nearly 8 million jobs in the UK will be lost to AI with more adoption of the tech by companies. No gains will accrue to GDP.

AI 'Apocalypse' Could Lead to 7.9 Million Job Losses in UK - Report 

Not all doom and gloom

It is not all doom and gloom for the UK. The IPPR report highlights the potential for AI to boost the UK economy by £306 billion [~$386 billion] per year in GDP under the right government policies.

In the best case, this ‘second wave’ of AI integration could occur without job losses, and even lead to wage gains of up to 30%. AI could also free up labor to fill gaps related to other social needs.

For instance, the report suggests, “workers could be re-allocated to social care and mental health services, which are currently under-resourced.” The IPPR’s findings underscore the urgency for the UK government to navigate AI’s double-edged sword.

Without government action and with companies left to their own devices, the worst-case scenario is a real possibility, IPPR says.

“We are at a sliding doors moment, and policy makers urgently to develop a strategy to make sure our labour market adapts to the 21st century, without leaving millions behind,” Bhargav Srinivasa Desikan, senior research fellow at IPPR, said.

“It is crucial that all workers benefit from these technological advancements, and not just the big tech corporations.”

The UK government has invested around $1 billion in artificial intelligence systems for the public sector, as part of an effort to ease potential job disruptions brought on by use of the technology.

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