ZURICH (Reuters) – Robots will destroy 85 million jobs at mid-sized to large businesses over the next five years as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates changes in the workplace likely to exaggerate inequalities, a World Economic Forum (WEF) study has found.
Surveys of nearly 300 global companies found four out of five business executives were accelerating plans to digitise work and deploy new technologies, undoing employment gains made since the financial crisis of 2007-8.
“COVID-19 has accelerated the arrival of the future of work,” WEF Managing Director Saadia Zahidi said.
For workers set to remain in their roles in the next five years, nearly half would need to learn new skills, and by 2025, employers will divide work between humans and machines equally, the study found.
“The tasks where humans are set to retain their comparative advantage include managing, advising, decision-making, reasoning, communicating and interacting,” it said.
Around 43% of businesses surveyed were set to reduce their workforce due to technology integration, 41% planned to expand their use of contractors, and 34% envisioned expanding their workforce due to technology integration, the survey found.
(Reporting by Michael Shields; editing by Barbara Lewis)