Case studies

Deloitte ‘Future of work’ thought leadership series

Helping clients and the wider industry understand the impact of technology on work

What is the true impact of technology on work? As artificial intelligence and robotics advance at pace, more of the work we do can be performed by smart machines. Optimists argue that these technologies will create new jobs by augmenting human intelligence and relieving people of the tedium of dangerous and repetitive activity. On the other hand, the pessimists argue that technology will decimate the workforce, leading to greater inequality and mass unemployment.

Until recently, the debate was still largely theoretical. Deloitte’s clients told us they wanted to know what the future was most likely to bring and how their workers should adapt. That’s why, in September 2015, Deloitte published the first report in our ‘Future of work’ series: From brawn to brains: The impact of technology on jobs in the UK, which was featured on BBC One’s Panorama. In 2016, we published two further studies: Transformers: How machines are changing every sector of the UK economy and Talent for survival: Essential skills for humans working in the machine age.

Deloitte’s methodology for this research was data-driven: it was vital to base it upon empirical evidence rather than subjective judgement to convince clients of the need for change. However, calculating the potential impact of automation at a macro level is difficult because different technologies affect different occupations to different degrees. The level of impact depends on the nature of activities that make up an occupation, the feasibility of using technology to carry it out and the skills and talents needed by the humans performing it. The research was based on a detailed historical analysis of Labour Force Survey data from the Office for National Statistics, complemented with data from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings and the US O*NET.

Collectively, the reports received considerable media coverage, including BBC One’s Panorama and an interactive ‘widget’ on the BBC News website, allowing individuals to understand their own risk of being automated. The research has been cited by ministers, politicians, business leaders, educators and academics. It has also been presented to a number of international conferences, including the Labour 20 summit in Beijing, and is being used to brief business leaders at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos in 2017.

Deloitte ‘Future of work’ thought leadership series has been named the winner of the ‘Best Use of Thought Leadership’ category in the Management Consultancies Association’s 2017 Awards.

Find out more about our other MCA Award finalists


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