UK facing 'sliding doors' moment with generative AI, millions of jobs at risk

Government urged to ensure fair industrial strategy as AI threatens huge job losses.

UK facing 'sliding doors' moment with generative AI, millions of jobs at risk
Jobs Could Be At Risk

A report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) warns that as many as 8 million jobs in the UK could be lost to artificial intelligence (AI) automation in a worst-case scenario. The analysis identifies two waves of generative AI adoption posing major workforce disruption risks.

In the current first wave, back office, entry-level, and part-time roles like secretarial, customer service, and administrative positions face the highest threats, disproportionately impacting women, youth, and lower-wage workers.

The forthcoming second wave could see up to 59% of employee tasks become vulnerable to AI replacement without intervention. This worst outcome could mean 7.9 million job losses with no GDP gains.

However, the IPPR outlines a best-case path where retraining allows augmenting human labour with AI instead, potentially boosting GDP by 13% or £306 billion annually.

The report urges the government to pursue a "job-centric industrial strategy" with incentives for AI workforce training and regulations ensuring human oversight in critical sectors like healthcare.

While £290 million has been committed since 2018 to future skills initiatives, and £90 million for new AI research hubs was recently announced, a government spokesperson deemed the predicted job loss figures "hugely speculative."

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