Insights

Agiletown: the relentless march of technology and London’s response

London Futures

November 2014

Our London Futures insights series focuses on the London economy and what it needs to do to maintain and reinforce its position as a leading global business hub. Our latest report in the programme focuses on the challenges and opportunities that technology presents to London.

The findings indicate that a significant shift is occurring in the labour market. Jobs that do not need to be done in London, or can be fully replaced by technology, will continue to leave the city. However, the job losses will be outweighed by new jobs requiring skills that involve creativity, complex problem-solving and high technical content.

The report brings together research from Oxford Martin School academics Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A Osborne on the potential impact of automation on jobs in the UK and London over the next two decades, and a Deloitte survey of 100 London based organisations, exploring the new jobs that will be created, the skills that will be needed, and the implications for current working practices.

Summary findings include:

  • 35% of UK jobs, and 30% in London, are at high risk from automation over the next two decades.
  • However, 40% of UK jobs are at low risk. In London, 51% of jobs are at low risk the highest level of job safety across all UK regions.
  • Jobs paying less than £30,000 a year are nearly five times more likely to be replaced by automation than jobs paying over £100,000. In London, low paid jobs are eight times more likely to be replaced.
  • 73% of London businesses plan to increase their headcount in the next five years, 51% say they will add 10% to current staff numbers.
  • 84% of London businesses say the skills of their employees will need to change over the next ten years. ‘Digital know-how’, ‘management’ and ‘creativity’ are the skills London businesses increasingly in need, with ‘processing,’ ‘support and clerical work’ and ‘foreign languages’ less in need.
  • 36% of London businesses plan to increase their property footprint in London, while 40% plan to increase their flexible or collaborative work spaces. 50% of retailers will increase property, both office and retail spaces, followed by 48% of financial and business services firms and 31 of TMT firms.

To meet the heavier demands of a growing population and work force, London will need an agile response, in education, the work place, infrastructure and housing. Much planning for London is in place or under way, but high on the city’s agenda should be the possibility that the pace of technological advance is accelerating and the challenges will have to be met sooner than expected.

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