Think Tank Study Finds That Up To 8 Million Jobs May Be At Risk From AI

The IPPR report highlights AI's growing impact on the UK job market, initially affecting 11% of tasks, particularly administrative roles. Future AI integration could influence up to 59% of tasks, with job loss scenarios varying widely. Employers must ensure ethical AI use, reskill workers, and support fair transitions.
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The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology has sparked both excitement and concern. As AI becomes more integrated into our daily lives, its impact on the job market is a topic of intense debate. Following on from our recent series of articles and podcasts dealing with AI and it's impact from a legal perspective, a recent report from the Institute for Public Policy Research ("IPPR") ("The Report") sheds light on the scale of that effect on the UK labour market.

The First Wave of AI Adoption

The Report first analysed the impact that existing AI systems such as ChatGPT and other generative AI systems could have on the UK labour market, which it refers to as the First Wave. It found that 11% of tasks performed by workers are already exposed to AI in this first wave. These tasks include both routine cognitive (e.g., database management) and organisational and strategic activities (e.g., scheduling or inventory management). The report found that secretarial, customer service and other administrative roles are most susceptible to disruption during this initial wave. It was also found that women would be disproportionately impacted by this first wave, as they are often overrepresented in these vulnerable roles.

From a legal perspective, employers will need to take care not to adopt discriminatory processes when implementing AI tools, a topic which is discussed in our podcast. This will require employers to properly consider the risks of any tools they look to adopt, and carefully consider the group of workers that may be impacted by such tools.

The Second Wave: A Pivotal Moment

The IPPR identified a Second Wave of development, where companies integrate AI technologies even more deeply into their processes. They found that this wave could see AI handling 59% of tasks, impacting not only routine cognitive functions but also non-routine cognitive tasks, and would begin to affect higher earning jobs.

The IPPR models three scenarios for the second wave, based on different policy choices made by employers and governments both in the UK and across the world:

The worst-case scenario was a full displacement, resulting in 7.9 million job losses without any gains to GDP, where AI tools replaced human workers, but those human workers were not able to find other roles.

The middle-ground scenario resulted in 4.4 million job losses but with 6.3% GDP gains (£144 billion per year).

The best-case scenario was referred to as full augmentation, where AI augments rather than replaces jobs, leading to no job losses and a 13% boost to GDP (£306 billion per year).

Policy Recommendations

The IPPR report made policy recommendations which, while primarily aimed at central and local government, are also relevant to employers and unions. The authors recommend that employers and unions prioritise reskilling programs to prepare their workers for the changing job landscape.

Employers must also be sure to ensure a fair transition for affected workers, including support for those displaced by AI. The report also recommends that AI should only be used ethically, and that bias, transparency and accountability should be borne in mind. These themes could expose organisations to risks independent of any new legislation that is brought in to regulate AI, for example in the spheres of data protection, discrimination and intellectual property. For more information on the risks and how to approach them, see our podcasts on the topic, dealing with AI and discrimination, data protection and intellectual property.


The AI revolution presents both challenges and opportunities. With thoughtful planning, companies can safely navigate this transformation to create a future where AI enhances productivity while safeguarding workers' livelihoods.

For further details, please see the IPPR's press release, here.

And the full report here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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