As many as 700 million workers will have to find new jobs or arm themselves with a new set of skills by 2030, according to consultancy McKinsey.
Robots and AI will occasion a shift in the type of jobs available, and workers who analyse data or perform routine tasks – consultants and paralegals, for instance – may find their careers threatened.
The company said there will be no shortage of demand for workers but the type of jobs available will change as machines become more intelligent.
Those who interact with people, like managers and teachers, may be harder to replace, The Telegraph reported.
“We find that there are many sources of future labour demand that could employ people, even as automation is adopted: for example, caring for others in ageing societies, developing and deploying technology, raising energy efficiency and meeting climate challenges, producing goods and services for the expanding consuming class in developing countries, not to mention the infrastructure and buildings needed as they urbanise,” said Michael Chui, partner at the McKinsey Global Institute.
“Still, the workforce transitions ahead may be enormous.”
Analysts say fewer than 5% of jobs are entirely automatable, but most jobs have a substantial element which could be done by machines.
Even if the pace of automation were more modest, still 375 million workers, or 14% of all workers, will have to change jobs or upskill.
However, this does not necessarily spell doom for workers.
The McKinsey report pointed out that previous waves of technological change have not resulted in a long-term rise in unemployment; innovations have simply led to the creation of new jobs in other sectors.
Higher incomes will also lead to higher spending, creating jobs in consumer durables, leisure activities, financial and telecommunication services, housing, healthcare, and education, the report said.
Finally, ageing populations present an opportunity in healthcare, leading to about 80 million to 130 million new jobs in the sector.
Workers who find themselves as a risk of losing out should look to gain skills in industries that will benefit from the shift.