Three unique factors shape the future of jobs in the Europe-5 countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK):

  • The pandemic. Businesses grow revenues by digitalizing their work processes. More work is done remotely, and more routine tasks are automated. Automation is a lever for change to reduce process costs and increase innovation.
  • The decline in working-age populations. Europe has one of the oldest working-age populations; by 2040, the Europe-5 countries will have 20 million fewer people of working age. Southern Europe has one of the lowest fertility rates; Italy and Spain will see the largest workforce declines, with 17% to 18% fewer workers in 2040 than in 2021. The Italian government will see the largest challenges: Italian workers will make up just 36% of its population in 2040, down from 42% in 2020.
  • The share of routine jobs. More than a third of Europe-5 jobs are routine. Routine tasks follow a precise set of instructions; routine jobs involve little complex thinking, judgment, or human interaction and are most at risk from automation. The share of routine jobs is higher in manufacturing-led economies; industry makes up 18% of the German workforce versus just 9% in the UK.

Automation will become integral to how European governments and employers look at their competitiveness and manage the decline in their working populations over the next 20 years. Productivity-driven automation requires artificial intelligence and robot adoption, but there is still a long way to go. In 2020, only 7% of Europe’s nonfinancial enterprises of 10 or more employees used artificial intelligence and less than 3% used big data and machine learning.

Forrester’s recently published Future Of Jobs Forecast, 2020 To 2040 (Europe-5) forecasts that 25% of Europe-5 jobs are at risk from automation and 12 million jobs will be lost by 2040. New jobs in Europe-5, however, will help offset jobs lost to automation: European information worker jobs have grown nine times faster than the European jobs market over the past 10 years, and over the next 20 years, up to 9 million new green jobs will be created.