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MUNICH, Jan 18, 2016:

Four out of 10 young people believe machines will be able to do their jobs within a decade, an international survey published today has found.

Nearly half of young workers surveyed in Western countries said their education did not prepare them to do their jobs.

The skills gap is especially pronounced in Europe, according to a poll of 9,000 16- to 25-year-olds in nine of the world’s biggest nations commissioned by Indian business and software services firm Infosys.

Almost 80% globally said they had to learn new skills not taught them in school and that rapid technology change – the threat of being overtaken by robots or smart systems – required constant learning of fresh skills to compensate.

The study surveyed around 1,000 young people each in Australia, Brazil, Britain, China, France, Germany, India and the US, as well as South Africa, where a smaller sample of 700 was polled.

Infosys chief executive Vishal Sikka said technologies have evolved far faster than what was thought possible even 10 years ago, while the educational system remains wedded to practices initially designed for agrarian societies 300 years ago.

“We must transition away from our past; shift the focus from learning what we already know to an education focused on exploring what hasn’t happened yet,” he said in response to the findings.

Globally, while almost two-thirds of those queried said they felt positive about their job prospects, those in developing markets Brazil, China, India and South Africa were far more optimistic than their peers in developed markets.

While in India, 60% said they think they have the skills needed for their careers, just a quarter were similarly optimistic in France, the poll found.

The survey also showed that the level of confidence which young people had in their technical skills correlated with their beliefs in their future career prospects.

The survey was conducted by London-based ICM Unlimited. It was released ahead of the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, which is focused on what it describes as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” the broad social and economic shifts taking place due to disruptive digital technologies.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported disruptive labour market changes, including the rise of robots and artificial intelligence, will result in a net loss of 5.1 million jobs over the next five years in 15 leading countries, according to an analysis published in Davos today.

The projection by the World Economic Forum (WEF), which is holding its annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort this week, assumes a total loss of 7.1 million jobs, offset by a gain of two million new positions.

The 15 economies covered by the survey account for approximately 65% of the world’s total workforce.

The assessment highlights the challenges posed by modern technologies that are automating and making redundant multiple human tasks, from manufacturing to healthcare.

With the International Labour Organisation, part of the UN, already forecasting an increase in global unemployment of 11 million by 2020, the size of the additional job losses is sobering.

Two-thirds of the projected losses are expected to fall in the office and administrative sectors as smart machines take over more routine tasks, according to latest findings, which are based on a global survey of personnel and strategy executives.

The WEF has made “the fourth industrial revolution” – a topic covering robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and biotechnology – the official theme of this year’s Davos meeting, which runs from Jan 20 to 23.

The “Future of Jobs” report concluded that jobs would be displaced in every industry, although the impact would vary considerably, with the biggest negative losses likely to be in healthcare, reflecting the rise of telemedicine, followed by energy and financial services.

At the same time, however, there will be a growing demand for certain skilled workers, including data analysts and specialist sales representatives.

Women will be the biggest losers as their jobs are often concentrated in low-growth or declining areas such as sales, office and administrative roles, the report said.

While men will see approximately one job gained for every three lost over the next five years, women face more than five jobs lost for every one gained.

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