The rise of robots could put up more than 20 per cent of jobs in Crawley under threat by 2030, a think tank has warned.
Centre for Cities’ annual report into the health of 63 locations across the country, released this week, focused on the threat of automation and globalisation.
The report estimated 20.6 per cent of the town’s jobs could be at risk from automation and globalisation – higher than Worthing and Brighton, the other Sussex areas ranked.
But while the figure seems startling, the report provides optimism, anticipating the labour market should adapt to the threat.
Crawley Borough Council leader Peter Lamb outlined how the authority was planning ahead, with issues of automation at Gatwick Airport and within the retail sector – the town’s largest employment sector – under monitoring.
The council has produced the Crawley Employment and Skills Plan to ‘up-skill’ residents and create better job opportunities.
In response to the automation threat, Mr Lamb said: “This is why we have been trying to change the nature of employment and skills within the town because we know there are big risks in the future.
“I recognise it is a challenge and something that has been on my mind for four years and we have something in place to try to resolve it.”
Mr Lamb said education – and teaching transferable skills – would not be enough to defeat the threat of automation.
The report, however, ranked Crawley top for the lowest proportion of residents with no formal qualifications.
Elsewhere, Centre for Cities graded the town favourably in a number of categories.
It placed third for the highest weekly average wage, despite 2017’s £633 figure coming in at £19 less than 2016.
Growth of housing stock saw the town come in sixth, while the overall employment rate was also top of the pile.
Mr Lamb said: “We are very well placed in the area and the town is extremely well designed. For the last 50/60 years Labour cllrs worked extremely hard to give us an awful lot of potential.
“We try to live up to that legacy and we are doing some fairly radical things.”