A new analysis conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) suggests that up to 8 million jobs in the UK could be at risk from AI adoption unless decisive government action is taken.

The report highlights the disproportionate impact on back-office, entry-level, and part-time roles, with women and young people particularly vulnerable to job displacement.

The IPPR study focuses on the adoption of generative artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential implications for the UK labour market. It identifies two distinct phases of AI adoption: the current wave and a projected future wave, where AI technologies are integrated more extensively into business processes.

According to the analysis, 11% of tasks in the UK economy are already exposed to AI in the first wave, with routine cognitive and organisational tasks being most susceptible. However, this exposure could increase to 59% in the second wave, affecting a broader range of tasks, including non-routine cognitive functions.

Scenarios for Future Impact

The IPPR has modelled various scenarios to illustrate the potential impact of AI adoption on the labour market, ranging from full displacement of jobs to full augmentation. The outcomes vary significantly depending on policy decisions, with potential job losses ranging from 1.5 million to 7.9 million, alongside corresponding GDP gains or losses.

To mitigate the adverse effects of AI adoption, the IPPR recommends a job-centric industrial strategy that prioritises job transitions and ensures equitable distribution of economic gains. Key measures include support for green jobs, fiscal incentives for job augmentation, and regulatory changes to safeguard human responsibility in critical areas such as healthcare.

Expert Insights

Carsten Jung, senior economist at IPPR, underscores the transformative potential of generative AI and stresses the importance of proactive management to harness its benefits while mitigating disruptions. Bhargav Srinivasa Desikan, senior research fellow at IPPR, highlights the need for policymakers to steer technological change towards creating novel job opportunities and ensuring widespread economic benefits.

The IPPR’s findings underscore the urgency for policymakers, employers, and unions to collaborate in developing strategies that enable the UK labour market to adapt to the evolving technological landscape, ensuring that no worker is left behind in the transition to the 21st century workforce.