Automation threatens 42% of B.C. jobs in coming years: business council

Automation could further exacerbate income gap between B.C. and Canada, according to risk assessment

Food service workers face an increased risk of finding their jobs becoming automated in the coming years, according to a new report from the Business Council of B.C.

Most B.C. workers shouldn’t expect advances in technology to advance their incomes in the coming years, according to research from the Business Council of B.C. (BCBC).

In a November 1 risk assessment examining the impacts of automation on the workforce, the council concluded 42% of B.C. workers are in occupations with a “high probability” of being automated in 10-20 years.

Compared with the rest of the country, B.C. has a larger share of jobs more susceptible to automation such as retail salespersons, food counter attendants, cashiers, transport truck drivers and general office support workers.

“This percentage [42%] is slightly higher than for Canada, indicating that B.C. could face more automation-related adjustment costs. Low-income occupations could bear a disproportionate share of the costs of re-tasking, re-skilling, relocation, job destruction or slower real wage growth due to automation,” wrote report author David Williams, the BCBC’s vice-president of policy.

“All else being equal, automation could also exacerbate B.C.’s income gap across occupations relative to Canada.”