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Construction industry most at risk of automation

Close to half of all businesses intend to increase their adoption of robotic process automation over the next year, with construction topping the list of industries most likely to be hardest hit.

Deloitte’s The Future of Work is Now: Is APAC Ready? Report, commissioned by Autodesk Foundation, aims to help identify the labour markets most vulnerable to technological disruption in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region.

It explores the future of work and automation in 12 APAC countries including Australia, Thailand, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, The Philippines, and Indonesia.

The construction industry had the highest proportion of routine, manual tasks, with a high potential for automation. Likelihood of automation was also high in mining, manufacturing, and transport. In comparison, service industries – like health, education and financial services – had a relatively lower impact score.

Autodesk Regional Director, Australia & New Zealand Andy Cunningham said digital change and automation are driving enormous productivity gains in the world of work – gains which are helping to improve standards of living across the globe, but there can also be significant adjustment costs associated with automation.

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“Taking proactive steps to address the risks of automation, and harness the benefits, will lead to better outcomes for workers, business and society more broadly,” Cunningham said.

The report finds Australia to be the most prepared country across APAC for the disruption of automation, with a preparedness score of 72 percent, followed by Singapore and Japan. India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are the countries most at risk and least prepared for automation.

“APAC is home to 60 percent of the global workforce, and the world’s largest developing economies. Across the region, the working poverty rate is 20.9 percent, and more than 1.1 million people die from occupational accidents or work-related diseases,” Cunningham said.

“Automation has the potential to address these problems. For example, it’s estimated that the use of collaborative robots can reduce up to 72 percent of common injuries in manufacturing jobs. Automation can also generate significant economic benefits, raising global productivity by as much as 1.4 percent annually.”

The report also highlights a series of proactive steps that should be taken to harness the benefits and address the risks.

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