Nearly half of all jobs in Middle East can be automated, report shows

In the UAE, more than 93 percent of the labour-saving technical automation applies to jobs held by expats
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Sun 11 Feb 2018 02:49 PM

As many as 45 percent of all jobs in the Middle East could be automated, according to a new research from McKinsey&Company.

In a report entitled “The Future of Jobs in the Middle East” – which was unveiled at the World Government Summit on Sunday - McKinsey&Company noted that $366.6 billion in wage income and 20.8 million full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) are associated with jobs that are already technically automatable in six Middle Eastern countries.

"Our research encourages Middle East policymakers and business leaders to embrace the transition into the new age of automation, and invest in skills that workers of the future will require,” said Jan Peter Moore, associate partner at McKinsey & Company.

In countries such as the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait, Moore noted that the projected proportion of work, and thereby workers, displaced by automation is higher than the projected global average.

“This means workers in these countries will need to evolve to adapt to global forces of workforce automation and technological progress more rapidly than other countries in the region,” he said.

According to the report, policymakers are being presented with an opportunity to embrace AI and automation, give workers the skills needed to complement the new technology, increase job opportunities stemming from them and take advantage of technological disruption to build new competitive advantage and reinvest in AI-driven productivity gains.

The technology, however, isn’t without risks. According to the report, 57 percent of the currently employed workforce in the region has not completed a high school education. The automation potential more than halves (to nearly 22 percent) for employees holding bachelor or graduate degrees.

In the UAE, the research shows that, based on the segmentation of work activities by sector, occupation and education, more than 93 percent of the labour-saving technical automation potential applies to jobs held by expat workers.

Additionally, the report shows that more than 60 percent of the automation is concentrated in six of 19 sectors examined, including administrative and support, government, manufacturing and construction, as well as retail and wholesale trade.

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