Technology could kill 5 million jobs by 2020

Message from Davos: The robots are coming

Five million jobs in the world's leading economies could disappear over the next five years because of advances in technology.

Developments in artificial intelligence, robotics, and biotechnology, would disrupt the business world in a similar way to previous industrial revolutions, the World Economic Forum said in a report published Monday.

Administrative and white collar office jobs are most at risk from a "fourth industrial revolution," the forum said on the eve of its annual meeting in Davos this week.

The impact of the tech revolution is the central topic of this year's gathering of the world's leaders and major business figures in the Swiss mountain resort.

The forum surveyed senior executives from over 350 of the biggest companies in 15 of the world's major emerging and developed economies. Together, those economies account for 65% of the global workforce.

Related: Smart robots could soon steal your job

It found that as many as 7.1 million jobs in the world's richest countries could be lost through redundancy and automation. Those losses would be partially offset by the creation of 2.1 million new opportunities in sectors such as tech, professional services and media.

Countries will have to invest in transforming their workforce if they want to keep up with the changes and avoid a worse case scenario of "talent shortages, mass unemployment and growing inequality," said Klaus Schwab, the founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum.

Investing in education and adult learning programs is a good place to start.

Around 65% of children starting primary school today will end up working in jobs that don't yet exist, and their future training is crucial, according to the report.

Insisting on more diverse workforces in terms of gender, ethnicity and age, will also be vital for companies that want to succeed in the rapidly changing world.

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