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Up to 12 mn Indian women may lose their jobs to automation by 2030: study

  • Agriculture, fisheries, transportation and warehousing are among the sectors where job losses from automation will be most acute for India’s female workers, says a study
  • Men could lose roughly up to 44 million jobs to automation in the same period in India, says the study

In a country marked by low female labour force participation, robots, artificial intelligence and other forms of automation could spell further job losses for women.

By 2030, up to 12 million women in India could risk losing their jobs to automation, according to a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute. The study on the future of women at work mapped the impact of automation on occupation among women in 10 countries.

Agriculture, forestry, fishing, transportation and warehousing are among sectors where job losses from automation will be the most acute for India’s female workers. It will require future job seekers to upskill themselves and gain secondary education.

Men could lose roughly up to 44 million jobs to automation in the same period in India, McKinsey noted. The report comes even as joblessness touches a 45-year high and female labour force participation rate remains a low 27%.

Automation has become a threat to workers around the globe, especially in economies that rely heavily on manual labour in manufacturing and services. Worried, companies and governments of the world over are upskilling employees and finding means to prevent workers from being made redundant by robots and artificial intelligence.

McKinsey’s research covers six mature economies— Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and US—and four emerging economies of China, India, Mexico and South Africa.

Between them, these 10 countries account for half of the world’s population and 60% of global GDP. But by 2030, an average of 20% of working women or 107 million female workers in these 10 countries could lose their jobs to automation.

“The spread of automation could potentially displace millions of female workers from their current jobs, and many others will need to make radical changes in the way they work. At the same time, shifting population dynamics and growing incomes will drive increased demand for certain jobs," McKinsey noted.

However, McKinsey added that emerging economies could experience much lower levels of automation by 2030 relative to the size of their employed population than mature economies.

However, as more jobs are lost, McKinsey also predicts the creation of new jobs, especially in sectors such as manufacturing and construction in India.

By 2030, India will also add an additional 23 million jobs for its female workforce and 91 million for men, the report added. But the threat to jobs will persist.

Globally, McKinsey noted that women in the services sector globally are at risk of losing jobs the most. However, in India, women largely employed in agriculture sector—that employs over two thirds of India’s workforce—face higher risks of job losses.

Agriculture accounts for over 60% of the country’s female working population. As a result, “losses in this occupational category—subsistence agriculture—could account for 28% of jobs lost by women, compared with 16% of jobs lost by men," McKinsey noted.

Four million women employed in agriculture, fisheries and forestry could risk their jobs; in craft and related trade work, job losses for women could be three million, and two million in elementary occupations. Interestingly, most new jobs for women will emerge in manufacturing, followed by construction and healthcare as the contribution of agriculture shrinks.

A shifting job landscape also implies newer jobs being created that will require newer skill sets. Such “transitioning" jobs, as McKinsey calls them, will require women to move into higher-skilled roles.

In India, 1 million to 11 million women will need to transition between their occupation, especially moving from farm to non-farm occupations, said Anu Madgavkar, partner, McKinsey Global Institute.