According to the OECD’s 2018 Job Creation and Local Economic Development report, released this week, “the risk of automation is much higher in some regions than others within countries”. While Slovakia ranks as the most vulnerable OECD country in the world, the country’s Western region appears particularly at risk.
The OECD had previously determined that nearly 14% of jobs could be replaced by machines and robots worldwide, and that more than a third of them could be impacted in one way or another and “see significant changes”. This new study digs deeper, and focuses on the regional disparities within countries. In that regard, Western Slovakia ranks as the most vulnerable, with 40% of jobs considered at risk of being automated in the near future, compared, for instance, to 4% in the Oslo region, in Norway.
In some countries, including the Czech Republic and Slovakia, regional differences are particularly strong, mainly due to the concentration of the most vulnerable jobs – low to medium skilled, manufacturing and routine activities – in specific areas of the country.
According to their analysis, which spans from 2011 to 2016, both Western and Eastern Slovakia, as well as the capital city Bratislava, have seen an increase of jobs at risk of automation in the last few years. The only exception being Central Slovakia, where significant job creations in low-risk positions such as “personal care workers”, “hospitality” or “teaching professionals” have made its local economy more resilient and less vulnerable to the prospect of increasing automation processes.
The vulnerability of Slovakia’s economy, manufacturing sector and labour market to automation is alarming – particularly if we consider how ill-prepared businesses and policy-makers seem to be – and is deeply rooted in the very structure of its economic development model.