Report probes prospects for robots to take places in B.C. workforce

British Columbians need to start thinking more about the coming of their robot overlords because the jobs in our economy are more susceptible than other provinces to automation, according to a recent report.

Some 42 per cent of workers in the B.C. economy, based on the 2016 census, are employed in jobs with “a high probability of being automated,” within the next two decades, according an analysis by the Business Council of B.C.

It is almost identical to a national average of 41 per cent of workers in occupations susceptible to automation, the research found, but in B.C., those workers are concentrated in three specific sectors — retail sales, business and finance or trades and machine operators.

That has implications not just for workers in occupations likely to be automated, who should be focused on learning new skills that make them less vulnerable to replacement, but for governments that need to work on education, retraining and tax policies that help raise those skill levels.

“I think I was surprised we had so many jobs in three occupation groups,” said report author David Williams, the business council’s vice-president of policy. “Even within those groups, the types of jobs we have lend themselves more to automation.”

There are implications for businesses too, Williams said, which should be embracing such technologies to improve their productivity that ultimately helps increase wages for skilled workers, increases consumption and supports even more employment.

The prospect of....

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