Robots and computers could replace almost 250,000 public sector jobs over the next 15 years, according to a new report.
The Reform thinktank said using websites and artificially intelligent “chat bots” could improve efficiency and save billions of pounds – but at huge cost for workers who lose steady jobs.
The technology could remove the need for some 130,000 Whitehall administrators – around 90% of the total – by 2030 and save £2.6bn a year in the process, the report said.
The group claims a further 90,000 NHS admin and 24,000 GP reception jobs could be automated in the same way, saving around £1.7bn.
The changes could also affect around 30% of nursing tasks, including information collection and handing out non-intravenous medication.
Even doctors could be impacted, the report found – machines are already proving more effective at diagnosing lung cancer and performing routine surgery procedures.
Reform argues that public services should embrace the “gig economy” – with workers picking up jobs on an ad hoc basis through online platforms.
It says the Uber-style model could replace agency workers in hospitals or schools or help meet seasonal demand in organisations like HMRC at the end of the tax year.
Alexander Hitchcock, the report’s co-author, said: “Such a rapid advance in the use of technology may seem controversial, and any job losses must be handled sensitively.
“But the result would be public services that are better, safer, smarter and more affordable.”.. see more