Thousands of jobs could be at risk from automation and technological change without a proper Government strategy, new research has found.

Analysis carried out by the House of Commons Library on behalf of Shadow Digital Minister Liam Byrne has used OECD data to show that shifts in the way businesses and industries operate could make around one in three of Sheffield’s jobs obsolete over the next 12 years. 

Particularly at risk are manufacturing, retail, business support and health sector jobs, where the rise of robots and other technology makes humans unnecessary for many tasks. Each stands to lose more than 6,500 jobs in the city.

But the risk even extends into traditionally less vulnerable areas such as sciences and the entertainment industry.

The rise of new technology is going to change the way our society functions from top to bottom – that means creating exciting new jobs and opportunities, but also risk for millions of people. Unfortunately when I served as Shadow Digital Economy Minister we found the Government was sleepwalking into the next industrial revolution without any real plan. In the time since, Secretary of State Matt Hancock’s main contribution to creating new jobs appears to have been developing his own app. 

We can’t contemplate going back to the 1980s, when a bonfire of jobs without any adequate replacements left our communities on the scrapheap. We need to prepare now, with investment in education and training, to make the transition to new types of work as manageable as possible.