Automation threatens more than half of all formal jobs in Brazil

More vacancies could be wiped out in the Latin country than in the United States, says study.
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer on

Automation technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) could make more than half of all formal employment vacancies irrelevant in Brazil, according to new research.

The study by University of Brasília (UnB) employed data from a government database used to inform policies around the Brazilian labor market. The database covers 97 percent of formal employment in the country and includes information such as workers' income, educational level and age.

Some 1122 occupations were split into five groups according to the level of knowledge required to perform the various tasks.  According to the research, which also incorporated evaluations from 69 local researchers focusing on automation, machines could do the job of 54 percent of Brazilians in formal employment, with 60-80 percent being at a "high" or "very high" risk of having their jobs wiped out by automation.

If Brazilian organizations continue to employ automation technologies at the current rate, it could mean 30 million jobs will be eliminated by 2026, says the study.

"This is the most likely scenario given that the automation of tasks for companies would result in an increase in the efficiency of their processes, cost reduction and the possibility of round-the-clock execution of certain activities," it adds.

"The challenge faced by the Brazilian government in the near future is to deal with this scenario by ensuring sufficient training for workers (especially low-skilled workers) to work in other activities where the level of automation is lower."

Jobs at risk include what the research defines as non-cognitive occupations such as trash collector, as well as other tasks involving cognitive abilities such as receptionist and bus conductor.

According to the study, automation threatens more jobs in Brazil than the United States, where 47 percent of vacancies could be eliminated by technology, but less than Europe (59 percent).

In other Latin countries such as Uruguay, automation poses a risk to 63 percent of jobs and in Argentina, 65 percent of vacancies could be eliminated, the study says. Guatemala has the highest percentage, where 75 percent of jobs could be done by machines.

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