Some 15% of Israeli jobs said to be at high risk because of automation
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Some 15% of Israeli jobs said to be at high risk because of automation

Most at risk are jobs in construction, manufacturing, transportation and storage services, postal and courier services, and food and lodging services, report says

Illustrative image of robots and AI. (PhonlamaiPhoto; iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative image of robots and AI. (PhonlamaiPhoto; iStock by Getty Images)

Some 15 percent of Israeli jobs are at high risk because of a move toward automation, similar to other developed countries, according to a report by the Taub Center For Social Policies in Israel.

A mapping of the Israeli labor market shows 54% of existing jobs are at moderate risk due to automation, and 31% at low risk.

“Present trends and anticipated changes place less-educated and lower-wage population groups, as well as employed persons in the Arab Israeli sector, women, and employed persons in Israel’s southern district, at risk of job loss,” the State of the Nation Report 2019, released last week, said.

Because today’s computers still have trouble performing certain tasks that require an ability to perceive and manipulate, creativity, and social intelligence, the jobs that need these skills are at less risk of being usurped by automation.

Illustrative photo of managers at a construction site (milanvirijevic, iStock by Getty Images)

Thus, in sectors such as the arts and entertainment, information and communication, education, and security, which generally require creativity and the ability to solve complex problems, a low percentage of jobs were found to be at great risk of automation.

Those most at risk are jobs in the construction and manufacturing sectors, transportation and storage services, postal and courier services, and food and lodging services, the report said.

When controlling for sociodemographic variables, the higher the education level of the workforce, the lower the risk from automation, the report said. Higher education reduces the risk by 15 percentage points compared with below-high-school education.

Arab men in Israel in all age groups hold the highest percentage of higher-risk jobs, compared both to Jews and to the average among countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This is because about half of the Arab Israeli men are employed in manufacturing, construction, and machine operation — fields characterized by high automation-risk levels. Also, Arab Israeli men and women were found to have relatively high employment rates in unskilled occupations that do not require high skill levels or training.

There are also gaps between Arab and Jewish Israelis in the propensity to use a computer, an important skill for the future labor market. Only about 43% of the Arab Israeli population use a computer for their work, compared with 77% of non-ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Regarding gender, women, especially non-ultra-Orthodox Jewish women, are at higher risk than men of losing their jobs to automation. This may indicate that women tend to make less use of the skills identified as those required for the future labor market, the report said.

Interestingly, the ultra-Orthodox population stood out for its large share of occupations requiring academic training — mainly in the field of education, where automation risk is low.

Relative to the OECD, “Israel has a high share of people who are interested but do not participate in relevant studies or training because of prohibitively high costs,” the report said. One of the main policy tools for accessing and acquiring skills, particularly among vulnerable populations, is state-run vocational training courses, Taub said.

“To create an effective vocational training course system, reliable information is needed on the required skills,” said Taub Center researcher Shavit Madhala. “Learning new skills is important across the life cycle, but it’s even more crucial at the early stages, through the education system. That’s the optimal point in time when we can work to bridge future gaps and implement policies aimed at preparing human capital for the future labor market.”

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