EAST Lancashire jobs could be at risk from robots.

A report by think tank The Centre for Cities has warned that one in four jobs in Blackburn and Burnley could be staffed by robots by 2030. Warehouse jobs are among those most at threat.

The think tank ranks Blackburn at number six in the British areas most at risk of job losses resulting from automation, and Burnley at number 19, with more than a 25 per cent share of jobs predicted to be lost to robots by 2030.

This comes following global fashion brand Boohoo’s announcement last month that they would be introducing automatic pickers in their warehouse in Burnley.

He said: “At a peak we receive 30,000 orders every 24 hours.

“The turnaround time from payment to shipping if it’s next-day delivery is two hours. With automatic pickers it will go down to 45 minutes so we will be able to extend the deadline for next-day shipping.

“The automatic pickers will affect some jobs, but by the time we go fully automated we will have employed 75 engineers.”

Northern Powerhouse minister and MP for Rossendale and Darwen Jake Berry said he believed automation would help grow the economy.

He said: “To create a growing Northern economy we need to embrace technology, we can’t refuse to move with the times.

“By introducing automation businesses become more productive and are able to increase trade and grow as a company."

A spokesman for Darwen-based Metal fabricator WEC said they already used robotic technology.

He said: “It’s something we have had for many years.

“We are investing in automative technology but we are not replacing our staff with robots.

“We can’t fall behind the rest of the world by refusing to invest in the technology, but our core strength is the skill level of our workers.

“We use automation to complete unskilled repetitive and it is beneficial for production.

“We specialise in highly-skilled engineering and focus on hiring and training highly-skilled people.

“They cannot be replaced by robots.”