CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
October 16, 2018
Forward Thinking

Study: Logistics and transportation jobs could be in peril

Automation is likely to eliminate many transportation and warehousing jobs, predicts an academic study conducted by Oxford University researchers.

In the next two decades jobs in logistics and transportation face a high likelihood of elimination because of automation and computerization. That's the startling conclusion of a study from the Oxford Martin Program on the Impacts of Future Technology, a research project affiliated with Oxford University in England.

The study's results, reported in **italic{The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation?} by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne, examined more than 700 occupations in the United States, taking into account the type of tasks workers perform and the skills required for those jobs. While the analysis used detailed datasets relating to U.S. occupations, the authors said, other developed countries could be expected to encounter similar employment repercussions.

The researchers found that jobs in transportation, logistics, and office administration are at a "high risk" of being automated. In regard to transportation, the report said that jobs in that sector are threatened by the development of computerized vehicles that can be operated without human drivers. "The declining cost of sensors, leading to the generation of big data, and the development of machine learning algorithms [that are] able to process big data are giving rise to rapid improvements in autonomous vehicle navigation," said Frey. "It won't be too long until such machines are able to substitute for human drivers in a range of occupations."

Jobs in warehousing are threatened by the growing deployment of robots and other types of automated equipment. "Robots will likely continue to take on an increasing set of manual tasks in manufacturing, packing, construction, maintenance, and agriculture," the report stated.

Although the study singled out logistics and transportation jobs, it also said that nearly half of all U.S. occupations are susceptible to computerization. To stay employed, low-skilled workers will have to seek out jobs that require creativity and social intelligence and therefore can't be easily automated, the authors said.

The report can be downloaded here.

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