How robots target waiters

Around 1.5 million jobs in England are highly exposed to automation via algorithms or robots, according to Office for National Statistics analysis. Women, young people and those working part-time are most likely to have jobs that are at high risk of automation.

However, the proportion of jobs at a high risk of automation fell slightly between 2011 and 2017 as the same time as the proportion of jobs at low and medium risk has risen.

“The exact reasons for the decrease in the proportion of roles at high risk of automation are unclear, but it is possible that automation of some jobs has already happened,” the ONS says. “For instance, self-checkouts at supermarkets are now a common sight, reducing the need to have as many employees working at checkouts.”

It is not so much that robots are taking over, but more so that repetitive tasks can be carried out more quickly and efficiently by an algorithm written by a human, or a machine designed for one specific function. The risk of automation tends to be higher for lower-skilled roles for this reason.

“When considering the overall risk of automation, the three occupations with the highest probability of automation are waiters and waitresses, shelf fillers and elementary sales occupations, all of which are low skilled or routine.”

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