Business Davos 2017

Friday 20 April 2018

At Davos robots, not trade, get blamed for job losses

Attendees walk past a sign in the Congress Hall during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland
Attendees walk past a sign in the Congress Hall during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland

Martinne Geller

Open markets and global trade have been widely blamed for job losses over the last decade, but global ceos say the real culprits are machines.

Business leaders gathered at the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos relish the productivity gains technology can bring, but they warned this week that the collateral damage to jobs needs to be addressed more seriously.

From taxi drivers to healthcare professionals, technologies such as robotics, driverless cars, artificial intelligence and 3-D printing mean more and more types of jobs are at risk.

Adidas, for example, aims to use 3-D printing in the manufacture of some running shoes.

"Jobs will be lost, jobs will evolve and this revolution is going to be ageless, it's going to be classless and it's going to affect everyone," said Meg Whitman, chief executive of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

So while some supporters of Donald Trump and Brexit may hope new government policies will bring lost jobs back, economists estimate 86pc of US manufacturing job losses are actually down to productivity, according to the WEF's annual risks report.

"Technology is the big issue and we don't acknowledge that," Mark Weinberger, chairman of consultancy EY, said, rejecting the idea the blame lies with trading partners.

Irish Independent

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