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Automation Threatens Older Workers

Asia is under the most pressure, but the trend is worldwide

two men talking in front of a robot


While the threat of robots replacing workers has been under discussion for years, a recent analysis of global trends shows that older employees especially are vulnerable to losing their jobs to new technologies.

The upcoming report, “The Twin Threats of Aging and Automation,” will be issued by the global consulting firm Marsh & McLennan.

According to the Economist, “Studies suggest that the adoption of robots is greater in countries which are aging more rapidly.” The Marsh & McLennan study, the publication states, “found that countries with more low-skilled older workers in automatable occupations … tended to be where the older population is growing fastest,” namely Asia. But it is a worldwide phenomenon.

And the concern has gained steam in several quarters. The head of the World Bank last fall said that the world is on a “crash course” as the rapid expansion in automation wipes out jobs.

Of note, according to the Economist, are the results of research into how easily older workers adapt to new technology. One survey of Western countries, it reports,  “found that only 10 percent of adults aged 55-65 were able to complete new multiple-step technological tasks, compared with 42 percent of those aged 25 to 54.”

But offsetting the trend for those nations where the population is more educated is the fact that in such countries, there are fewer low-skills jobs and, thus, they aren't as susceptible to being lost to automation.

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