A study by the IT association Bitkom seen by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Friday, projects that 3.4 million jobs in Germany will become redundant in the next five years, as robots and algorithms take over the work of humans.
Given the fact that there are currently around 33 million people in regular employment in Germany, that figure amounts to roughly every tenth job in the country.
The survey by Bitkom among 500 companies with more than 20 employees across a wide range of sectors also shows that every fourth firm sees its existence as threatened by digitalization.
Bitkom director Achim Berg criticized the German government for paying far too little attention to digitalization and its impact on Germany’s future.
“During the World Economic Forum in Davos almost every event had something to do with artificial intelligence. In Berlin I’ve heard far too little about this,” he said.
Bitkom drew particular attention to the communications technology sector which had 200,000 employees in the 1990s but only has around 20,000 now.
“In only 15 years we have lost 90 percent of jobs in this sector – due to digitalization,” said Berg.
He warned that banks and insurance companies could be next to feel the brunt of the digital revolution, adding that Germany should experiment with an unconditional basic income. “We need to try it and see if it works,” Berg said.
But the findings are likely to prove highly controversial.
Researchers at the Mannheim Research Institute claim that digitalization has created more, not less jobs. They claim that computers will take over specific functions rather than complete jobs and also argue that the increased profitability of companies through digitalization will allow them to take on more personnel.