More than half of jobs in the 28 member states of the European Union are at risk of computerisation, according to a study published by Breugel, a Brussels-based think tank.
The research suggests “that new advances in technology will primarily damage the low-skill, low-wage end of the labour market as tasks previously hard to computerise in the service sector become vulnerable to technological advance.”
Using data based on the 2012 EU Labour Force Survey, the study generates “an overall index of computerisation risk equivalent to the proportion of total employment likely to be challenged significantly by technological advances in the next decade or two across the entirety of EU-28.”
Northern EU countries – Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, UK, Sweden and Ireland — are expected to have lower risks of computerisation compared with countries on the periphery of the EU.
The level of risk ranges from around 45 per cent of the labour force in countries such as Austria to well over 60 per cent in Romania.
Jobs in Sweden will be least affected by computerisation at 46.69 per cent, in the UK 47.17 per cent, the Netherlands 49.50 per cent, France 49.54 per cent, Spain 55.32 per cent, Italy 56.18 per cent, Bulgaria 56.56 per cent, Greece 56.47 per cent.
“This automation will primarily affect low-skill, low-wage jobs,” according to the study.
However, the study warns: “It is hard to predict how the jobs of 2014 will look in a decade or two and consequently it should be remembered that the estimates consider how many jobs as currently defined could be replaced by computers over this horizon.”
Present unemployment rate across the EU 28 member states is 10.3 per cent or 25.1m workers according to May figures from Eurostat, the European Commission’s statistical bureau.
However in the peripheral states most likely to be hit by job losses caused by computerisation unemployment is notably higher: Greece 26.8 per cent, Portugal 16.9 per cent, Italy 12.1 to 12.6 per cent, and Spain 25.1 per cent.