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AI, automation more likely to negatively affect women workers than men: study

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AI, automation more likely to negatively affect women workers than men: study

Women are more likely to lose their jobs amid artificial intelligence and automation growth than men, according to a recent report. 

The McKinsey Global Institute study on generative AI and the future of work in America found that women are 1.5 times more likely to need to move into new occupations than men by the year 2030. 

It forecast that an additional 12 million occupational transitions may be needed by 2030, as activities that account for as many as 30% of hours currently worked across the U.S. economy could be automated.

Without generative AI, researchers estimated automation could take over tasks accounting for 21.5% of the hours worked in the U.S. economy by 2030. With it, that share jumped to 29.5%.

ACCELERATED ADOPTION OF AI COULD AUTOMATE 30% OF AMERICANS’ WORK HOURS: MCKINSEY

Artificial Intelligence words are seen in this illustration taken March 31, 2023. (Reuters / Dado Ruvic / Illustration / Reuters Photos)

Workers in lower-wage jobs are up to 14 times more likely to need to change occupations than those in the highest-wage positions and will need additional skills to do so successfully. 

The jobs in the two lowest wage quintiles are disproportionately held today by those with less education, women and people of color.

Women are, for example, heavily represented in office support and customer service, fields the study says could shrink by about 3.7 million and 2 million jobs, respectively, by 2030. 

Notably, Black and Hispanic workers are highly concentrated in some shrinking occupations within customer service, food services and production work.

However, while its analysis shows a decrease of 1.1 million jobs in the two lowest wage quintiles by 2030, McKinsey predicts that jobs in the highest wage quintile could grow sharply, by 3.8 million. 

Business persons walking and working around the office building

A team meets Inside an office building. (iStock / iStock)

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“Helping workers in lower-wage, shrinking occupations move into better-paying jobs with more stability will require widespread access to training programs, effective job matching, different hiring and training practices by employers and better geographic mobility,” the study said. 

The study said that nationwide deskilling calls for broader partnerships with industry groups, educational providers and nonprofits, as well as incentives. 

“With millions of jobs potentially being eliminated by automation – and even more being created in fields requiring different skills – the United States needs broad access to effective training programs as well as job-matching assistance that can help individuals find opportunities,” it said. 

business people at desks in office

Business people at their desks in a busy office. (iStock)

Although grappling with the “major barrier” of the need for affordable childcare – which some are working to address – the study said women could potentially fill “historically male-dominated fields” like construction.

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Those fields, that are facing labor shortages, can fill gaps with more women, improving diversity in the process.

The U.S. labor market has been remarkably resilient in the face of recent challenges and rapid changes. That kind of adaptability is exactly what it will take to navigate the next chapter as well, supporting individuals while helping businesses meet their talent needs so they can continue driving growth,” McKinsey’s study said.

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