Generative AI will hollow out many middle class roles over the next decade

Generative AI will have a much greater impact on white collar roles than blue collar ones over the next 10 years, according to a new report from PearsonGenerative AI will have a much greater impact on white collar roles than blue collar ones over the next 10 years, according to a new report from Pearson. In at least ten white collar roles, more than 35 percent of tasks could be done by AI, with medical secretaries (41 percent) predicted to be the most impacted. Conversely, every of one of the top 10 least impacted are classed as blue collar, revealing launderers, dry cleaners and pressers (0 percent) as the UK’s most AI-proof job.

The latest instalment of Pearson’s Skills Outlook series looks at ‘Gen AI Proof Jobs’ – analysing the impact of generative AI on more than 5000 jobs in five countries – Australia, Brazil, India, the US and UK.   Looking specifically at the time spent on individual tasks in a working week, the research suggests that around 30 percent of some white-collar roles could be done by generative AI.  The findings also showed that less than 1 percent of time spent on tasks involved in many blue-collar jobs could be done by AI.

Many of the most affected white-collar roles contain repetitive tasks – such as scheduling appointments or answering and directing calls – that could be easily replicated by generative AI. The white-collar roles that are most generative AI proof tend to be the ones involving tasks related to mathematics, like engineers. Generative AI is currently notoriously inaccurate at maths computations, making those jobs a little more AI proof for the time being.

On the flip side, many blue-collar roles – such as landscapers, mechanics, or construction workers – include manual labour or customer service elements that can’t easily be replicated by generative AI.   In the UK the most impacted jobs are (by  percent of time spent on tasks that can be automated or augmented by generative AI):

White Collar Jobs 

  • Medical Secretaries: -41 percent
  • Communication Operators: -40 percent
  • Book-Keepers, Payroll Managers and Wages Clerks: -39 percent
  • Typists and Related Keyboard Occupations: -39 percent
  • Financial Administrative Occupations: -38 percent

Blue Collar Jobs 

  • Buyers and Procurement Officers: -27 percent
  • Restaurant and Catering Establishment Managers and Proprietors: -23 percent
  • Catering and Bar Managers: -22 percent
  • Leisure and Sports Managers: -21 percent
  • Chemical and Related Process Operatives: -21 percent


The least impacted jobs are:

White Collar Jobs 

  • Civil Engineers: -9 percent
  • Chief Executives and Senior Officials: -10 percent
  • Sales Related Occupations: -10 percent
  • Managers and Directors in Transport and Distribution: -12 percent
  • Non-Commissioned Officers and Other Military Roles: -12 percent

Blue Collar Jobs 

  • Launderers, Dry Cleaners and Pressers: 0 percent
  • Painters and Decorators: 0 percent
  • Groundsmen and Greenkeepers: 0 percent
  • Gardeners and Landscape Gardeners: 0 percent
  • Glaziers, Window Fabricators and Fitters: 0 percent