The Robot Revolution Will Steal 5 Million Jobs In Five Years

And you can't build a wall to keep them out

Prepare to meet your robot overlords — (Getty Images)
Jan 20, 2016 at 3:55 PM ET

Robots are coming—not to enslave you but to take your job. By the time today’s high school seniors graduate from college, there will be five million fewer jobs in the world, according to a new study by the World Economic Forum. And a lot of them will be taken by robots.

“The Future of Jobs” report released by the WEF this week claims the global job market will look drastically different in five years thanks to advancements in technology fields like robotics, AI, genetics, biotechnology and 3D printing. The report warns that, while there will be some growth in certain fields, there will be a net loss in 5.1 million jobs—all results of what WEF is calling “The Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

WEF researchers based their trajectories on surveys of human resource departments at 371 companies that collectively employ 13 million employees across the world. The study doesn’t just take into account technological advancements, but also demographic and socio-economic changes like flexible work hours, middle class growth within emerging markets, climate change and depletion of natural resources. The report says all these social, economic and tech developments will form “a perfect storm of business model change in all industries, resulting in major disruptions to labour markets.”

Offices will be affected the most—the WEF estimates that changes resulting from automation will lead to a decline in nearly 4.8 million administrative jobs alone. Manufacturing and construction will also be greatly affected, followed by arts, sports and media, then legal and maintenance. The safest area will be business and financial operations, which will see an increase in 492,000 jobs, according to the report. Management, computer, mathematical, architecture and engineering jobs will also grow.

The WEF created the report with the hope that it would inspire major overhauls in education and business models. The study suggests that not only should governments rethink how to prepare students for future jobs, but that businesses should focus on continuing education that will keep aging economies from being left behind by a landscape that will continue to evolve faster with each passing year.