Press releases

One quarter of business services jobs at risk of automation in the next twenty years

12 July 2016

More than a quarter of jobs in the business services sector are at high risk of automation in the next twenty years, according to a report by Deloitte, the business advisory firm. This is largely a result of the falling cost of technology combined with the rising cost of labour.

Of the 3,300,000 jobs currently classed as business services*, 800,000 (25%) to 1 million (31%) have a high chance of being automated. This figure is lower than the national total (36%), highlighting that the business services sector is less exposed than other areas of the UK economy. In addition, almost half of business services jobs are at low risk of automation (45%) with the remainder in the medium risk category.

Simon Barnes, financial transformation partner at Deloitte, said: “We expect the pace of automation to increase exponentially over the next few decades. Business services companies need to consider the full potential of intelligent automation, both as a way of improving operational efficiency and quality standards, and in order to innovate to remain competitive.”

Deloitte’s analysis shows that with labour costs set to rise for the next five years, in part due to the recent introduction of the National Living Wage, rising costs, price competition and their impact on margins are likely to lead to a renewed focus on productivity and efficiency in the sector.

Simon Barnes said: “The business services workforce in the UK will fundamentally change over the next ten to twenty years. Repetitive and highly structured job roles are likely to be reduced, while new, higher-skilled roles will be created. As automation becomes increasingly more cognitive and less robotic, the business services sector must move fast to make sure they recruit and retrain people with the right skills and knowledge to address this.”


Notes to editors
*Building upon both the Osbourne & Frey study and the analysis of the Business Services sector conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of the Business Services Association, Deloitte has analysed the proportion of jobs in the business service sector that are at risk of automation and classified them into three categories: those at high risk of automation, those at a medium risk and those at low risk.

In doing so, Deloitte used Office for National Statistics Census data, mapping more than 50 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes to the five major business services sectors:

  • Outsourced frontline public services
  • Construction-related services
  • Facilities management
  • Telecoms and IT
  • Business Process Outsourcing. 

About Deloitte
In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte LLP, which is among the country's leading professional services firms.

Deloitte LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, whose member firms are legally separate and independent entities. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

Stephanie Dobbs
Deloitte LLP
+44 (0) 20 7303 2636
+44 (0) 776 817 8264

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