Women to be hit hardest by automation

Women are set to be hit hardest by the impending introduction of automation in the workplace according to a new report.

New research from McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) has suggested that although the job losses across sectors will be generally balanced in terms of gender, women will struggle more than men to return to employment.

 (The ONS has created a chat bot for those concerned about the future of their jobs)

Twenty per cent of employed women, who make up the large majority of retail workers set to be displaced by automation, and 21 per cent of employed men are expected to lose their jobs to automation by 2030.

Furthermore 20 per cent of women and 19 per cent of men could gain employment thanks to this technology driving productivity gains and therefore growth, suggesting the initial impact of automation will be broadly similar between genders.

READ MORE: 7.4% of UK workers at risk of losing job to automation

However, the research argues that women will be disproportionately challenged in returning to work after their displacement due to a number of longstanding barriers.

Firstly around 65 per cent of STEM students in higher education are male, meaning that they will be disproportionately lacking in the skills needed to work in the new economy.

This challenge will be accentuated by the fact that women still provide more than 75 per cent of unpaid care, meaning they have significantly less time to retrain.

To prevent this potential employment block, MGI suggests that more companies need to provide flexible work options for women, while young women should be encouraged to engage more with STEM subjects.

More companies should provide flexible work options for women juggling work and family. A 2018 global survey by Manpower Group found that just 23 per cent of employers offered flexible or remote working options. Investment in online learning could also help to overcome women’s mobility constraints.

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