A new study suggests that robots and automation will eliminate an estimated 20 million global manufacturing jobs by 2030.

Conducted by Oxford Economics, a private U.K.-based research and consulting firm, the study suggests that robots and automation will offer economic benefits while simultaneously eliminating low-skill positions.

Evidence of this, according to the study, is already being seen as robots have reportedly usurped millions of manufacturing positions. Researchers note that automation is also gaining a foothold in the service industry, ushered along by advances in computer vision, machine learning and speech recognition. Researchers determined that the jobs most affected by automation are those with repetitive functions, using warehouse work as an example of work at imminent risk. The team also concluded that robots will eventually play a larger role in the retail, hospitality, healthcare, construction, agricultural and transportation sectors as well.

Conversely, researchers predict that jobs likely to be safe for decades to come are those that demand creativity, compassion and social intelligence. The study also suggests that robots and automation will boost productivity, increase economic growth and generate as many new jobs as they eliminate, depending on location.

The team predicts that the impact of automation will be felt differently from region to region. For those living in lower-skilled regions, researchers predict that job loss will likely be twice as much as that experienced in higher-skilled regions.

"Automation will continue to drive regional polarization in many advanced economies — and this trend will intensify as automation spreads to services," the authors wrote.

Yet, to prepare for the disparity, researchers caution policymakers against acting to slow adoption of robotic technology.

"Instead the focus should be to use the robotics dividend to help those in vulnerable regions ready themselves for the major upheaval ahead," the authors wrote."Preparing for and responding to the social impacts of automation will be the defining challenge of the next decade."

To contact the author of this article, email mdonlon@globalspec.com