While the debate on these technologies has mostly focused on the question of whether more jobs will be destroyed than created, the pressing issue is that of time. It took us decades in previous industrial revolutions to implement new public education and national training systems and new forms of infrastructure. We can’t wait so long this time around. Experts, including the World Economic Forum, predict that we’ll start seeing massive job disruption in the next five years.
Our job therefore as a country is to navigate this tricky path of getting to the Industrial model of the future - minimising the loss of jobs, maximising the opportunities for the UK – particularly in regions outside of London and the South East.
We need urgently to answer the tough questions posed by these technologies to ensure they act as a positive force for UK industry and help us drive national productivity.
Some key questions we need to tackle:
• How can we understand what skills will really be needed?
• How can we build a future UK where more jobs are created than are displaced?
• How do we ensure the new jobs use higher skilled and are higher paid than the ones they replace?
• How do we hire, retain and develop the best people and how do we retrain our existing people in new skills areas?
• How do we encourage more people to learn STEM skills?
• How can we reduce the fragmentation of policy and investment and bring all these activities together as a coherent whole?
• How do we make sure industry and education are working hand in hand?
Have your say
I’m delighted to be leading the working group on skills – as part of the UK’s Industrial Digitalisation Review (#IDR).
As a community of business leaders, engineers, educators and policy makers, I want us to work together over the coming months, to build a collective vision of the future so we can take urgent actions to prepare.
If you’re interested and want to have your say in this dialogue, throughout the month of May and June, I’m looking for thoughts and ideas from the community. Next week, we’ll kick this off with a survey to gather feedback on a strawman of the engineer of the future.
You can get engaged on this important debate by following us on social media #industrialfuture.