Work-from-home boom risks loss of 6 million UK professional jobs

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) – One in five jobs based in the UK could be outsourced to other countries in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, threatening the loss of well-paid white collar employment.

That’s according to the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, which warned that 5.9 million “anywhere” workers – from graphic designers to software programmers – are at risk, many of them in London and south-east England.

“If left unaddressed, the outsourcing and offshoring of these roles would have political, economic and social consequences similar to the loss of manufacturing jobs in the 1970s, but on an accelerated time frame,” the research group said in a report published on Wednesday (June 15).

The warning highlights the permanent changes to the labour market wrought by the pandemic. The “mass experiment” with remote working means that companies concerned about costs could decide keep just core staff needed for in-person collaboration and decision making, the report said.

The institute, which was founded by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, called on the government to tackle the threat by improving infrastructure – such as child care and 5G broadband connectivity – and training, particularly in soft skills.

It also said jobs at risk include 1.7 million in finance, research and real estate.

The loss of jobs to digital platforms or cheaper workers elsewhere could undermine government’s leveling up agenda.

Office for National Statistics data show 58 per cent of companies that want to continue with more home-working are motivated by cutting costs, such as office rents in city centres.

“Opportunity is no longer determined just by geography but also connectivity,” said Jeegar Kakkad, the institute’s head of innovation and productivity.

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