Levelling up the nature of work: How AI and Automation can create high-value jobs and skills

The world of work is changing rapidly. Technological innovation has changed the way we live and work, from automation-enabled self-checkouts in supermarkets and retail outlets, to robot-powered machine lines, to Artificial Intelligence enabled algorithms which capture data such as financial tracking and forecasting. These shifts in innovation provide the potential for business growth and have accelerated during the covid-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday 25th May, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Skills, Careers & Employment met to discuss AI and automation in the workplace.

The speakers were:

  • Liz North, Policy Connect;
  • Fabian Wallace-Stephens, The RSA;
  • Rab Scott, Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre; and
  • Dr Siobhan Neary, University of Derby.

Pre-pandemic estimates concluded that 6 million individuals employed in the UK were most at risk of losing their jobs due to automation (Nesta, Precarious to Prepared). This figure is likely to have increased with businesses prioritising capital investment in the pandemic and with a cumulative total of 11.4 million jobs supported by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme at various times (Gov.uk).

The discussion considered the questions:

  • In a time of rapid change, what are the opportunities are there for the employer to engage workers in more creative roles or provide support for training and reskilling opportunities?
  • How can skill providers and industry work collaboratively to provide the jobs of the future, with the skills to fill these roles?
  • How can these individuals be supported with good quality career information, advice and guidance?
  • What could or should be taken into account when designing the interventions for the person at risk?