Robots will create rather than destroy food jobs

Robotics will create more skilled food industry jobs, claims the FDF

Robotics and automation will create more skilled jobs in the future, despite a report claiming 46% of manufacturing workers were at “high risk” from automation’s introduction by the early 2030s, said the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

Around 1.22M manufacturing jobs were at high risk from the introduction of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) in the UK, a report from professional services group PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) claimed.

Clerical support workers within manufacturing were most at risk, with 65% of jobs under threat from automation – of which 71% were female workers, it found.

Manufacturing had the second-largest number of jobs under threat, the report claimed, after transport and storage, where 56% of jobs were vulnerable. A quarter of hotel and foodservice jobs were also under threat.

‘Rebalance what jobs look like in the future’

“There’s no doubt that AI and robotics will rebalance what jobs look like in the future, and that some are more susceptible than others,” said PwC head of technology and investments Jon Andrews.

“What’s important is making sure that the potential gains from automation are shared more widely across society and no one gets left behind. Responsible employers need to ensure they encourage flexibility and adaptability in their peoples.”

But, the FDF said advances in automation and robotics were key to growing the UK food and drink industry, the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, which was aiming to increase its workforce by 2030. New technology was crucial to that plan, it said.

“Investing in automated technologies and upskilling existing employees is key to improving the productivity levels of our industry,” said an FDF spokesman.

‘Additional increased skilled jobs’

“The implementation of such machinery will provide additional increased skilled jobs and these individuals will make up some of the 130,000 new workers our industry will require in the next 10 years.

PwC’s chief economist John Hawksworth said: “Automating more manual and repetitive tasks will eliminate some existing jobs, but could also enable some workers to focus on higher value, more rewarding and creative work, removing the monotony from our day jobs.”

He also added that automation would also help boost productivity across the economy.

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