Up to 20 million manufacturing jobs around the world could be replaced by robots by 2030, according to analysis firm Oxford Economics.
People displaced from those jobs are likely to find that comparable roles in the services sector have also been squeezed by automation, the firm said.
Each new industrial robot wipes out 1.6 manufacturing jobs, the firm said, with the least-skilled regions being more affected.
Areas where more people have lower skills, which tend to have weaker economies and higher unemployment rates anyway, are much more vulnerable to the loss of jobs due to robots, Oxford Economics said.
And experts have warned workers who move out of manufacturing, tend to get new jobs in transport, construction, maintenance, and office and administration work – which are also vulnerable to automation.
Oxford Economics also found the more repetitive the job, the greater the risk of its being wiped out.
Jobs which require more compassion, creativity or social intelligence are more likely to continue to be carried out by humans “for decades to come”, it said.
About 1.7 million manufacturing jobs have already been lost to robots since 2000, including 400,000 in Europe, 260,000 in the US, and 550,000 in China, it said.
The firm predicted that China will have the most manufacturing automation, with as many as 14 million industrial robots by 2030.
In the UK, several hundreds of thousands of jobs could be replaced, it added.