London Essays – Issue 8: Futures


Much has been made in recent times of the threat that technology and automation pose to jobs in the UK.

The graphic shows London’s job sectors by size, and their relative susceptibility to automation. For example, the wholesale and retail sector, the second-highest employer in London, has nearly two-thirds of its jobs at high risk of automation; while the largest employer, professional, scientific and technical activities, has only a quarter of its employees at high risk. The analysis suggests that automation is likely to play out very differently across different sectors of the London economy. In many sectors, the likelihood of large-scale job losses currently remains low, as the cost of artificial intelligence or robotics to replace workers is so high. And in many cases, it is likely that specific tasks, rather than whole jobs, will be automated.

Source: Number of jobs from ONS (2017) JOBS05: Workforce jobs by region and industry, December 2016. Automation risk from Deloitte (2016) Global cities, global talent: London’s rising soft power.