Computer, take over! According to the study, every third job in Germany is at risk


Jobs at risk from digitization? (Source: Shutterstock / Videoflow)

According to the IAB study, over eleven million jobs – and thus every third job in Germany – are at high risk of being taken over by computers. Trend: increasing.

The advancing digitization and the development of new technologies means that more and more activities could be taken over by computers or computer-controlled machines in the future. The manufacturing industry is particularly hard hit. Jobs in sectors such as retail, financial services or the security industry are also potentially at risk. After 2013 and 2016, the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) has now for the third time examined the effects on the labor market triggered by the advance of new technologies.



Digitization endangers jobs – and creates new ones

The result: 11.3 million people worked in an occupation with a high potential for substitution in the 2019 study period. This means that 70 to 100 percent of the activities to be carried out there could also be taken over by computers, like that Handelsblatt writes. This means that a good third of all jobs subject to social insurance are at risk. In 2016 it was 25 percent, in 2013 it was only 15 percent of jobs in Germany.

According to the IAB study, increasingly complex activities can be automated through the use of new digital technologies. “The technologies that have become ready for the market in recent years are more geared towards the substitution of more complex activities,” explains Britta Matthes, head of the IAB research group Professions in Transformation. According to Matthes, the highest risk potential continues to be in the helper and specialist professions. There, an average of almost 60 percent of the activities could be done automatically.



Social and cultural professions hardly endangered

This value is 45 percent for specialist occupations and 26 percent for expert occupations. “The higher the level of requirements in the job, the lower the proportion of activities that can be automated,” says Matthes. According to the IAB, only 13 percent of activities in social and cultural service professions could be automated. Computers therefore have little chance where “human work is more economical, more flexible or of better quality”. Restrictions also present legal or ethical hurdles.

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Of course, digitization and new technologies also have positive effects on the labor market. Between 2016 and 2019, over 200 new activities were added to the IAB list. There are currently 800 professions there. At least 30 professions were created during this period, including e-commerce and UX design professions. According to a forecast by the Federal Ministry of Labor, around 3.6 million new jobs will be created and 5.3 million will be lost by 2040. Some of it, however, has nothing to do with technological upheavals.

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