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Robots will save jobs, not take them: Barclays

We shouldn't be fearing the “rise of the robots” but rather embracing it, according to the latest research from U.K. banking giant Barclays.

Investing in automation could safeguard several thousand jobs and boost the U.K. economy, rather than prompt a series of job cuts, Barclays revealed in its “Future-proofing UK manufacturing” report, out Monday.

A prototype robot with two arms, demonstrates its abilities during a demonstration for the media at a warehouse in Noda, in suburban Tokyo.
TORU YAMANAKA | AFP | Getty Images
A prototype robot with two arms, demonstrates its abilities during a demonstration for the media at a warehouse in Noda, in suburban Tokyo.

In its research, the bank claims that an additional £1.24 billion ($1.87 billion) investment into robotics could give as much as a £60.5 billion economic lift to the U.K. by 2025.

Consequently, this investment could push growth in the country's manufacturing sector further to £191 billion in the next decade. While job cuts in the sector are anticipated, the investment could help "soften" and potentially even mitigate further cuts within the manufacturing workplace and safeguard up to 73,500 employees.

In terms of the overall economy, Barclays stated that around 105,800 jobs across the U.K. could be preserved by this investment.

The report comes as concerns over a struggling manufacturing sector appear only to worsen in the U.K.

In November, a survey by the Confederation of British Industry showed expectations for the U.K.'s manufacturing output was likely to fall in the coming months; while preliminary estimates from the Office of National Statistics in late October showed that the U.K.'s gross domestic product missed expectations in the third quarter of 2015.

This Barclays study runs contrary to a flurry of concerns suggesting we should be cautious over the use of robots in the workplace.

In November, the Bank of England warned that as much as 80 million jobs in the U.S. and 15 million in the U.K. could be at risk of being taken over by machines within the coming decades.

Society is already seeing developments in robotics and technology that could soon make machines the preferable option for tasks previously the preserves of people.

For instance, a number of automotive and tech giants are looking into driverless cars, which could put taxi drivers at risk, while many machines have been created to work alongside employees in factories, to help with heavy equipment and repetitive tasks, including Rethink Robotics' collaborative robot "Baxter."


Koichi Kamoshida | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

To counteract this "fear" on job security, many have suggested that jobs with personalization and human understanding will become more valuable as technology becomes more prevalent.

Barclays' head of manufacturing, Mike Rigby suggested that businesses need to confront some of the obstacles when it comes to investment.

"To reap these rewards we need to address some of the barriers to investment including the need for more user-friendly and flexible technology, addressing skills barriers within the sector and supporting manufacturers to access the funding and information already available to them for robotics investment," Rigby said in a statement.

—By CNBC's Alexandra Gibbs, follow her on Twitter @AlexGibbsy.