Rise of robots to hit jobs on scale of mine closures, says think-tank

Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter called on political and business leaders to take action now to ensure the "devastation which resulted from the loss of the coal mining industry in Yorkshire isn't repeated again".
Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter called on political and business leaders to take action now to ensure the "devastation which resulted from the loss of the coal mining industry in Yorkshire isn't repeated again".
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The rise of the robots threatens Yorkshire with job losses on the scale of the decline of coal mining unless political and business leaders face up to the challenge now, a think-tank has warned.

Centre for Cities chief executive Andrew Carter said automation poses a particular threat to Yorkshire cities as he called on senior figures to begin preparing now to retrain workers and ensure people have the right skills to thrive in the future.

The independent think-tank has warned that 24 per cent of Yorkshire jobs could be at risk from automation and globalisation by 2030.

Wakefield is expected to be worst hit, with 29 per cent of the city's jobs at risk, the third most in all British cities. Doncaster and Huddersfield also ranked in the top 10, with 27 per cent and 25 per cent of jobs at risk respectively.

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Now Mr Carter has warned that there could be a repeat of the devastation of the 1980s for the region's workers unless action is taken now.

He told The Yorkshire Post: "Automation will help to create jobs and increase prosperity across Yorkshire, but there is also a real risk that some people and places will lose out.

"The onus is on political and business leaders in Yorkshire to act now to prepare people of all ages across the county for the new world of work.

"More than anything, that means taking steps to ensure people have the right skills and training to thrive in the workplace of the future.

"This will be critical in ensuring that the devastation which resulted from the loss of the coal mining industry in Yorkshire isn't repeated again."

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The Confederation of British Industry recognised the "vital" need to respond now as more than 35 per cent of jobs could be automated in the future.

A CBI spokesman said: "This has huge workplace implications.

But it also has huge potential implications for inequality. The lowskilled jobs that disappear will be replaced by high-skilled jobs, responsible for oversight and management.

"This is more than a step change. It's a completely new era, and one that will require a massive programme of education and training with business and government working hand in hand."

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh said the threat illustrated the need for a pan-Yorkshire mayor to stop her community being "left behind again".

The Labour MP said: "When the pits closed, skilled, well-paid miners and engineers lost their jobs and our communities were left behind by successive Tory governments.

"We have rebuilt our economy through retail, tourism and financial services but those jobs are now at risk from automation and Brexit."

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Wakefield council leader Peter Box said: "Industries such as logistics have been incredibly valuable and beneficial to Wakefield in recent years; we want to work with firms and employers in that and similar industries to keep them successful and providing quality jobs for local people in our district.

"Developing future-proofed skills for local people is a key priority for us."

Commons Business Committee chair Rachel Reeves said: "Government and business leaders need to work to ensure all parts of the country are able to harness the benefits of new technologies.

"But we shouldn't fear a dystopian future with robots replacing people. Jobs in the future will certainly change and we need to make sure people in Yorkshire have the skills to get on."