Hundreds of millions of workers worldwide will need to find new careers or a new set of skills to compete in the jobs market as robots and artificial intelligence march ahead.
As many as 700 million people could be displaced from their jobs by robots by 2030, particularly if advanced economies switch to new technology rapidly, according to a study from consultancy McKinsey.
If the pace is more modest – as the analysts expect – then around 375 million people, or 14 per cent of all workers, would have to move jobs and retrain, according to the Daily Telegraph.
This should make workers more productive on average, driving economic growth and improving pay.
McKinsey believes there will be no shortage of demand for workers, but that the type of jobs available will change as machines become more intelligent, meaning workers need to become more skilled.
"We find that there are many sources of future labour demand that could employ people, even as automation is adopted: for example, caring for others in ageing societies, developing and deploying technology, raising energy efficiency and meeting climate challenges, producing goods and services for the expanding consuming class in developing countries, not to mention the infrastructure and buildings needed as they urbanise. Still, the workforce transitions ahead may be enormous," says Michael Chui, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute.
Workers who interact with people, such as managers and teachers, may be harder to replace, while those who analyse data or carry out routine tasks, such as accountants and paralegal specialists, could find their careers at risk.
Fewer than 5 per cent of jobs are entirely automatable, the analysts estimate, but most jobs have a substantial element which could be done by machines.
Previous waves of technological change have not resulted in any long-term net rise in unemployment, however, the report found, as innovations create new jobs in other sectors.
"We estimate that the introduction of the personal computer, for instance, has enabled the creation of 15.8 million net new jobs in the United States since 1980, even after accounting for jobs displaced," the report said.
"About 90 per cent of these are in occupations that use the PC in other industries, such as call center representatives, financial analysts, and inventory managers."
Other factors will also create new jobs. For instance, McKinsey estimates that rising incomes across the world will lead to higher spending which could create as many as 365 million new jobs in the coming 13 years.
As a result workers who are at risk of losing out should look to gain skills in industries which will benefit from this shift.
"As incomes rise, consumers spend more on all categories. But their spending patterns also shift, creating more jobs in areas such as consumer durables, leisure activities, financial and telecommunication services, housing, healthcare, and education," the report said.
Ageing populations, too, mean skills in healthcare are increasingly important and could lead to 80 million to 130 million new jobs in the sector. And the technological shift means workers should train in IT skills too, with an additional 20 million to 50 million jobs to be created by 2030, McKinsey estimates.