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Construction at ‘lower risk’ of losing jobs to automation, says Autodesk

8 June 2021 | By Katie Coyne

Workers in the construction industry are at a lower risk of losing their jobs to automation than other sectors such as manufacturing, according to a report from charities Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and Autodesk Foundation.

The ‘Good work innovations in Europe: Reimaging the social contract’ report found while bricklaying robots, drones and autonomous vehicles are becoming more popular, it is more difficult to automate construction work because it is less repetitive and more customised.

Also highlighted was the green jobs revolution, which is due to create 700,000 more jobs, many of which will be in construction. Job losses from the green revolution will mostly be in traditional industries such as fossil fuel extraction and automotive.  

The emergence of automation means there is a greater need for better training and up-skilling and re-skilling of workers to equip them for the future, the study found. However, the acceleration of automation fuelled by the pandemic has also boosted these training opportunities with more flexible online learning programmes, digital skills programmes, and digital accreditations.

The report also said the pandemic had highlighted the insecure nature of some of the worker contracts within construction, as well as other sectors, that needed to change.

“The pandemic is likely to accelerate the pace of technological change and automation across Europe,” the report concluded. “While labour markets in some countries and regions are characterised by particularly high levels of insecure work, the pandemic has helped to surface some of the challenges these workers face.

“A future of good work for all is possible. But we will need new approaches to skills, training and lifelong learning, to economic security (particularly for workers outside of traditional employment arrangements), and to worker voice and power.”

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