A new report claims that not only low-skilled jobs are threatened by automation, but also many mid-skill level jobs are also at risk.
Quartz states that a new report released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a Paris-based economic forum for rich countries found that across OECD member countries, the number of people working mid-skill level jobs dropped from 49 percent in 1995 to under 40 percent in 2015. That is more than a 9 percent drop in just twenty years.
This is in part due to some mid-skill level jobs being replaced by high-skill level jobs which are defined by the OECD as “complex cognitive tasks” that are not frequently repeated. For younger educated workers, this has lead to more job opportunities, but older works with less education are finding it harder to hold onto often specialized but not particularly complicated job roles.
In the financial services sector, mid-skill level jobs were nearly entirely replaced by high-skill level jobs as the role of clerical officers was replaced by automated software while technically skilled roles became more important within the industry. However, the remaining 20 percent of mid-skill level jobs have been replaced by low-skill level jobs such as cleaners and retail workers. These tasks often rely heavily on hand-eye coordination and as a result are much harder to automate.
Globalization has also had a negative effect on mid-skill level jobs as the OECD found that many companies were now outsourcing their mid-skill level positions to companies where labor is cheaper such as China; however, globalization has not affected mid-skill level jobs as harshly as automation has. In all 23 of the countries analyzed by the OECD, the number of mid-skill level drops available dropped by at least two percentage points. Some countries were affected worse than others with Ireland, Austria, and Switzerland dropping by more than 15 percentage points. Greece and Japan were the only countries where mid-skill level jobs were replaced by low-skill level jobs, in most others high-skill level jobs took the place of previous jobs.