The rise of robots threatens 400,000 Yorkshire jobs

THE RISE of robots could put 400,000 Yorkshire jobs at risk by the end of the next decade - and compound the North/South divide, a new report has warned.

Robots on a production line, as a new report predicts that one in five jobs in British cities is likely to be displaced by 2030 because of automation and globalisation. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Around one in four jobs in Yorkshire cities, 24 per cent, are likely to be displaced by 2030 as a result of automation and globalisation, the Centre for Cities think tank said.

Worst hit is expected to be Wakefield, where 29 per cent of jobs are at risk - 45,000 in total. It was ranked third of all British cities at risk. Doncaster and Huddersfield also ranked in the top ten, with 27 per cent and 25 per cent of jobs at risk respectively.

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Sheffield and Leeds both face losing almost 100,000 jobs - with almost a quarter of posts at risk in Sheffield, 24 per cent, the equivalent of 91,300; and 21 per cent of jobs at risk in Leeds, 95,400 jobs.

Bradford and Barnsley are also expected to lose posts, with 52,500 and 17,600 jobs at risk respectively, while York could face 22,900 job losses.

The think tank said that while both automation and globalisation are expected to drive job growth - across the UK 3.6m jobs are expected to be lost by 2030, with retail, customer service and warehouse jobs among those most at threat.

Cities in the North and Midlands are “more exposed” to job losses than those in the south, with around 18 per cent of posts at risk in southern cities compared to 23 per cent in cities elsewhere in the country.

Furthermore Northern and Midlands cities are not expected to benefit as much from the jobs growth as a result of automation and globalisation, attracting largely low skilled jobs, while Southern cities are more likely to attract high skilled roles.

Chief executive of Centre for Cities, Andrew Carter, said there was a “real risk” many people in Yorkshire would lose out unless reform was made in education, both improving school standards and investing in “lifelong learning” to help adults adapt to the changing labour market.

He said: “In an ever more divided country, it’s increasingly clear that a one-size-fits-all approach from central government is inadequate to address the myriad issues that different places face. The challenges and opportunities ahead for Leeds, for example, are very different to those for London. Cities in Yorkshire need more powers and resources to tackle the issues that automation and globalisation will present, and to make the most of the benefits they will bring.”

Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Coun Susan Hinchcliffe, said the report highlighted the “potential benefits” of devolving more control over skills to allow areas to tailor skills provision to their local economies.

She added: “Through our new delivery agreements with colleges we are demonstrating how local partnerships could work so that the employees of the future are equipped with the skills that businesses need. But to really give these agreements teeth we need devolution of skills budgets from central government.”