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Will your job be automated?

Job automation is widely seen as oneof the biggest challenges of the digital revolution, and a source of uncertainty and insecurity for many workers today. The automation of routine tasks has already lowered the share of middle-skill jobs, and polarised low- and high-income jobs, which is associated with rising inequality. In some cases, digitalisation has reduced the demand for low-skilled as well as middle-skilled workers, while increasing demand for a high-skilled workforce, which cannot always be met by the existing supply. The risk is higher wages for some, but unemployment for others.

Not all countries are equal in the face of this challenge. The current OECD average for the share of jobs at risk of being automated–that is, those having at least 50% automatable tasks–is 34.3%; the share of jobs considered “high risk”–that is, with at least 70% automatable tasks–is 9%. But these shares are higher in some countries such as the Slovak Republic, with 45.9% jobs risking automation, 11% of which arehigh risk, than in others such as Korea, with 24.4% jobs at risk, 6% of which arehigh risk.                            

Different levels of risk do not appear to be closely correlated with levels of development, as the chart indicates.

Digitalisation is also an opportunity, and the OECD argues that it is essential for countries to have a strong policy focus on preparing people for change. Facing the inevitable transformation in the labour market will require a comprehensive and early response, combining security and adaptability, as well as lifelong education to ensure that workers of all ages can adapt to this oscillating environment.

OECD (2017), OECD Economic Surveys:New Zealand 2017, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eco_surveys-nzl-2017-en

©OECD Observer No 310 Q2 2017