Nearly a quarter of existing jobs in New Zealand will be automated by the mid 2030s, according to a new report from PwC.
New Zealand is, however, comparatively well placed with 24 per cent of jobs affected, the sixth fewest in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The accounting and consulting firm also predicts job losses will be offset by increased employment in new fields.
On average across the 29 countries covered by the research, the share of jobs that are potentially high risk of automation will be around three per cent by the early 2020s, but this rises to almost 20 per cent by the late 2020s, and 30 per cent by the mid- 2030s.
PwC's report, “Will robots really steal our jobs?”, states that New Zealand will fare better due to the country’s higher concentration of jobs in industries with relatively low potential for automation.
"The data suggests New Zealand has the opportunity to continue creating jobs for people as the world navigates through the coming waves of automation," PwC New Zealand innovation partner Andy Symons says.
"That doesn’t mean we can be complacent, though. Both businesses and government should be developing strategies around retraining options for workers and building an education system that allows us to replace jobs that are lost through automation."
New Zealand jobs, as in the Nordic countries and Greece, are less automatable because our economy focuses on services, especially in areas like tourism, which can’t be easily automated, Symons says.
Globally, financial services jobs could be relatively vulnerable to automation in the shorter term, while transport jobs are more vulnerable to automation in the longer term, the report states.
Meanwhile, female workers could be more affected by automation over the next decade, but male jobs could be more at risk in the longer term.
Similarly, in the long run, less well educated workers could be particularly exposed to automation, emphasising the importance of increased investment in lifelong learning and retraining.
"We still have to be looking at how we train our young people and reskill workers so they are ready to move into new roles that technology like AI will create," Symons adds.
Between now and the mid-2030s, PwC expects three waves of automation to reshape the global economy.
Firstly, the algorithm wave, which is already underway and involves automating structured data analysis and tasks, such as credit scoring. This wave will come to maturity by the early 2020s.
Secondly, the augmentation wave is also underway and will mature later in the 2020s. The augmentation wave is focused on automating repeatable tasks, as well as the use of aerial drones, robots in warehouses and semi-autonomous vehicles.
In the third autonomy wave, which could come to maturity by the mid-2030s, AI will be able to analyse data, make decisions and take action with little or no human input. Fully autonomous driverless vehicles could roll out at scale in this phase, for example.