A report released by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) reveals that as many as eight million jobs could be at risk due to the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI).

The report highlights a critical juncture for the UK’s economic future, urging the government to enact proactive measures to mitigate the potential fallout.

According to the IPPR analysis, the UK stands at a “sliding doors” moment regarding the adoption of generative AI, with profound implications for the labour market.

The report delineates two distinct waves of AI adoption: the ongoing first wave and a more extensive second wave poised to deeply integrate AI technology into various industries.

Alarmingly, the report suggests that without intervention, up to 59 percent of tasks performed by workers could be susceptible to automation by AI.

Which jobs are most at risk?

During the initial wave, back-office operations, entry-level positions, and part-time jobs are deemed most vulnerable to disruption. Roles such as secretarial, customer service, and administrative positions are particularly at risk, with women and young people disproportionately affected due to their higher representation in these sectors. Additionally, individuals with lower wages are identified as particularly susceptible to job displacement by AI.

The IPPR report paints a stark picture of a worst-case scenario for the second wave of AI adoption, predicting a staggering 7.9 million job losses without any corresponding gains in GDP. However, it also offers a glimmer of hope, suggesting that with proactive intervention from both government and industry, significant economic benefits could be realised. In the best-case scenario, where jobs are augmented to work alongside AI, the UK could see a remarkable 13 percent boost to GDP, equivalent to around £306 billion annually.

Carsten Jung, senior economist at the IPPR, emphasised the pivotal role of strategic decision-making in managing the impact of AI. He stressed that while AI presents opportunities for economic growth, its unchecked implementation could lead to widespread disruption. Jung urged stakeholders to seize the opportunity to shape the trajectory of AI adoption, emphasising the importance of government policies, employer initiatives, and union involvement in safeguarding workers.

A job-centric industrial strategy

The IPPR report recommends a job-centric industrial strategy for AI, advocating for tax incentives, subsidies, and regulatory changes to support workers and ensure human oversight in critical sectors like healthcare. Despite the gravity of the findings, the UK government has yet to introduce specific legislation addressing the rise of AI. However, recent announcements of significant investments in AI research hubs signal a recognition of the issue’s importance.

Responding to the report, a spokesperson for the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology (DSIT) emphasised the speculative nature of the predictions, citing reports suggesting AI’s potential to create new jobs and drive economic growth. The government reiterated its commitment to assessing AI’s impact on various sectors and investing in skills development initiatives to prepare for the jobs of the future.

As the UK stands at the precipice of an AI-driven future, the IPPR report serves as a clarion call for decisive action. With the right policies and strategies in place, the nation can harness the transformative power of AI while safeguarding its workforce against the looming specter of widespread job displacement. The stakes are high, and the time for action is now.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.