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Robots and technology threaten 10 million UK jobs

Ty Wright | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Millions of U.K. jobs are at risk from advances in technology in the next 20 years, according to a report on the impact of technology on the labor market.

Advances in technology, automation and robotics will cause a significant shift in the U.K. labor market in the next 20 years with one-third (35 percent) of existing U.K. jobs at risk of being replaced, according to research published by accountancy firm Deloitte and the University of Oxford on Monday.

"Advances in technology will likely see jobs requiring repetitive processing, clerical and support services, replaced with roles requiring digital, management and creative skills. These trends are already well under way," the report said.

The Office of National Statistics states that there were 30.76 million people in work from June to August this year, meaning that one in three of the workforce could be affected by technological change.

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The report builds on the work of Michael Osborne from the Department of Engineering Science at Oxford University and Carl Benedikt Frey, a research fellow at the university's research center, the Oxford Martin School.

In 2013, Frey and Osborne conducted a similar study on automation and the U.S. job market. In a paper entitled "The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?" they estimated that 47 percent of U.S. employment is at risk of automation. In this latest report, they translated their findings to the U.K. and London.

They concluded that jobs paying less than £30,000 ($47,673) a year in the U.K. were nearly five times more likely to be replaced than jobs paying more than £100,000. In London alone, lower paid jobs (under the £30,000 band) were eight times more likely to be replaced.

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But while 35 percent of existing jobs in the U.K. are deemed at high risk from automation over the next two decades, four out of ten jobs are at low or no risk. In London, 30 percent of jobs are at high-risk from automation whereas 51 percent of jobs are at low or no risk.

"High risk" jobs are in office and administrative support; sales and services; transportation; construction and extraction; and production. "Low or no risk" jobs are in skilled management; financial services; computing, engineering and science; education; legal services; community services; the arts and media; and health care.

Angus Knowles-Cutler, a senior partner at Deloitte, said technological advances created challenges and opportunities that needed to be acted upon.

"Unless these changes coming in the next two decades are fully understood and anticipated by businesses, policy makers and educators, there will be a risk of avoidable unemployment and under-employment. A widening gap between 'haves' and 'have nots' is also a risk as lower skill jobs continue to disappear."

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A separate study of 100 London businesses by Deloitte found they were already starting to react to potential changes, with advances in technology requiring new skills and a major shift in job types.

'Digital know-how', 'management' and 'creativity' are the skills London businesses increasingly need while 'processing,' 'support and clerical work' and 'foreign languages' are now less in need. Bearing out the findings on automation's impact on the labor market, where jobs are being reduced, automation will be the leading factor.

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt.