BCG: How AI will impact jobs in the US in the next decade

By Kate Birch
Study from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and analytics firm Faethm outlines impact of automation technologies on the job market across the United States...

A new study from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and analytics firm Faethm says technology is disrupting labour markets, and governments, companies, and individuals need to consider how individual professions will be affected. 

The report titled The Future of Jobs in the Era of AI quantifies the impact of technology by 2030 in the US (as well as Australia and Germany). 

The authors examine how the supply and demand for different types of jobs will change. These include shifts in the size of the national workforce – due to college graduation rates, retirements, and mortality, as well as driven by technology adoption and the impact of COVID-19.

“The net number of jobs lost or gained is an artificially simple metric to gauge the impact of digitisation,” says Rainer Strack, a senior partner at BCG and co-author of the report. 

“For example, eliminating 10 million jobs and creating 10 million new jobs would appear to have negligible impact. However, doing so would represent a huge economic disruption for the country – along with the millions of people with their jobs at stake.”

US could face labour shortfall of 12.5mn by 2030

Of the three countries examined in the study, Australia faces the widest range of possible outcomes, likely experiencing a labour shortfall of up to 800,000 full-time employees of the national workforce (the difference between the total supply and the total demand) by 2030. However, the impact of COVID-19 could see that figure actually become a surplus of 800,000.

According to the study, Germany would experience a labour shortfall in five of the six scenarios that were modelled, ranging from 200,000 to 2.5 million workers.

The US will likely experience a labour shortfall in its workforce of 600,000 to 12.5 million people.

The professions with the biggest potential shortfalls are computer-related occupations and jobs in science, technology, engineering, and maths. 

In jobs that involve little or no automation but that do require compassionate human interaction tailored to specific groups – such as healthcare, social services, and teaching – the demand for human skills will increase as well.

How can people prepare for automation?

The report suggests national governments should put extra effort into better understanding how the workforce will change and implement training programmes to reskill workers. 

“Governments can also build online employment platforms that can help match available talent to open positions and reskilling opportunities,” said Miguel Carrasco, a senior partner at BCG and co-author of the report.

Companies can play their part by anticipating the skills and capabilities they will need to succeed in the future and building a culture of lifelong learning. Individuals need to be more flexible and open to learning new skills to meet changing demand.

“As countries prepare to meet the twin demands of the digital age and the economic effects of COVID-19, they must understand the challenges that lie ahead,” says Michael Priddis, CEO of Faethm and co-author of the report. 

“This means making use of more sophisticated analytical models to predict supply and demand in the labour market and integrating them into the foundation of their workforce strategies.”

Faethm AI utilises global data to understand the impact of automation. The company’s SaaS AI platform was launched in 2017 and now serves 26 countries with offices in Sydney, London and Austin, Texas.

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