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Research finds 1/4 of NZ roles could be automated by 2030s

PwC’s latest global research has found New Zealand is well positioned to manage the three coming waves of automation between now and the mid-2o30s, in its report, “Will robots really steal our jobs?” The report found New Zealand has just the sixth-lowest share of jobs that are at high risk of automation.

On average across the 29 countries covered, the share of jobs at potential high risk of automation is around 3% by the early 2020s, but this rises to almost 20% by the late 2020s, and 30% by the mid-2030s. While this is global research, it’s good to see New Zealand will fare better, thanks to the country’s higher concentration of jobs in industries with relatively low potential automation rates, rising to only 24% by the mid-2030s.

Andy Symons, Innovation Partner at PwC New Zealand, commented that:


“The data suggests New Zealand has the opportunity to continue creating jobs for people as the world navigates through the coming waves of automation. We have a workforce that’s built on roles that are less automatable on average than many countries around the world.

“That doesn’t mean we can be complacent though. Both businesses and government should be developing strategies around retraining options for workers and building an education system that allows us to replace jobs that are lost through automation.”

Between now and the mid-2030s, PwC expects three waves of automation to reshape the global economy.

• The algorithm wave, which is already underway and involves automating structured data analysis and tasks, such as credit scoring. This wave will come to maturity by the early 2020s.
• The augmentation wave is also underway and will mature later in the 2020s. The augmentation wave is focused on automating repeatable tasks, as well as the use of aerial drones, robots in warehouses and semi-autonomous vehicles.
• In the third autonomy wave, which could come to maturity by the mid-2030s, AI will be able to analyse data, make decisions and take action with little or no human input. Fully autonomous driverless vehicles could roll out at scale in this phase, for example.

The table below summarises the estimates of the percentage of jobs that could be impacted over these three waves, both globally and in New Zealand.

WaveCumulative % of jobs analysed that could be impacted by automation globallyCumulative % of jobs analysed that could be impacted by automation in New Zealand
Algorithm wave -
to early 2020s
3%2%
Augmentation wave - to late 2020s19%16%
Autonomy wave -
by mid 2030s
30%24%

Source: PwC estimates of median values across 29 countries based on analysis of OECD PIAAC data

Potential impact around the world

New Zealand is part of a small group of countries, along with the Nordic countries and Greece, where the workforce is concentrated in industries with relatively lower potential automation rates, and the roles workers hold are also on average less automatable.

“The report suggests we may experience a reduced impact (relative to other countries,” says Andy. “We’re in good shape because of our economy’s focus on services, especially areas like tourism, which can’t be easily automated.”

“We still have to be looking at how we train our young people and reskill workers so they are ready to move into new roles that technology like AI will create.”

/

Ends

Download the report at pwc.co.nz/automation

Notes

1. The methodology used in this study builds on previous research by Frey and Osborne (2013), Arntz, Gregory and Zierahn (2016) and our previous research on this topic in PwC’s UK Economic Outlook (March 2017). For further details please see the Annex of the full report located at https://www.pwc.co.uk/automation

2. The research analysed the tasks and skills involved in the jobs of over 200,000 workers across 29 countries in order to assess the potential impact of automation on workers in different industry sectors and of different genders, ages and education levels.

3. In a survey of 10,000 people worldwide by PwC for its Workforce of the Future study, PwC found that almost three quarters (74%) of people surveyed are ready to learn a new skill or completely retrain to keep themselves employable, seeing it as their personal responsibility and not employers, to keep their skills updated. Their views reinforce a shift to continuous learning while earning, so employees can keep up with technology’s impact on jobs and the workplace. Find out more here.

4. PwC analysis published in June 2017 shows that Global GDP will be 14% higher in 2030 as a result of AI – the equivalent of an additional $15.7 trillion. This makes it the biggest commercial opportunity in today’s fast changing economy. Find out more here.

About PwC

At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 158 countries with more than 236,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com.

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.

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