A total of 1.8 million workers need to improve their competences or change jobs over the next 11 years.

The Automation and the future of work in Portugal study assessing the country’s automation potential until 2030 was presented in January 2019. It highlights the upcoming and profound technological transformations and the need to reskill and requalify workers. Based on the analysis of 800 occupations and 2 000 tasks performed in various industries, it estimates that the increased use of robotics and artificial intelligence could lead to the elimination of 1.1 million jobs, creating 600 000 to 1.1 million new jobs, especially in health, social care, science, technical professions and construction. The most vulnerable sectors are manufacturing and commerce. In contrast the sectors of health care and social assistance and education services face relatively low risk of job loss due to automation (38% and 28% respectively).

The study was carried out by the Business Confederation of Portugal (CIP), the New School of Business and Economics and the McKinsey Global Institute. The president of CIP commented that policy-makers are ‘concerned with training young people and creating opportunities for the youngest, but technological innovation forces us to reflect on the need to retrain adults so they can remain up to date’. He emphasised that ‘what is at stake is a commitment to professional training and retraining, because some professions will be changed and others will simply disappear.’

The study describes the main challenges caused by automation and its effects on salaries, and suggests that public and private policies should aim at diminishing job losses and focus on adult learning and VET.  It also confirms that the education and training system, especially VET, have to respond to business needs. With regard to labour legislation, the study highlights a need for an adequate framework promoting business adaptability to the labour market’s changing needs and the adoption of new technologies and processes. It concludes that unless people are able to meet challenges and take advantage of opportunities that new technologies bring, automation will cause significant job losses.