We need an inclusive and diversified workforce to prepare for a future of automated jobs
For the National Retraining Scheme to work, older workers must be a central focus.
Older workers, women and BAME groups are among those most at risk of losing their jobs to automation and AI. The Government’s skills policy must help foster an inclusive, diverse and age-friendly workforce.
The Government has recently launched the National Retraining Scheme to help provide new skills and training to adults in preparation for future changes to the nature of jobs.
Why does this matter? As more and more jobs are increasingly becoming automated, workers who are untrained and unskilled in automated jobs are at risk of falling out of work. There is a risk that 35% of jobs are at high risk of being replaced due to automation in the next 10 to 20 years.
Retraining must prioritise older workers, women and minority ethnic groups
Research from Eurofound has shown that older workers in the UK often get fewer opportunities for re-skilling and re-training. They are less likely to have had training paid for by their employer compared to younger workers. The Centre for Ageing Better have found that those aged 50 and above are less likely to be offered training opportunities by their employers.
Within the older age sub-groups, there are other disadvantaged groups such as older women in male-dominated sectors and BAME groups. Research shows that due to a prevalent ‘old boys’ club’ in certain fields like science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM), women in these male-dominated sectors face huge obstacles in career growth. Additionally, research shows that all minority ethnic groups have higher unemployment levels than White graduates. For a programme to be inclusive and work for all, those who are disadvantaged and vulnerable, such as older age groups, women in certain sectors, ethnic minority groups and the needs of these groups must be considered.
This programme is a great step in the right direction to prepare for a future of automated jobs. But to build an economy that works for all, the needs of all those who are vulnerable, disadvantaged and at risk must be considered
This programme is a great step in the right direction to prepare for a future of automated jobs. But to build an economy that works for all, the needs of all those who are vulnerable, disadvantaged and at risk must be considered.
This means offering retraining skills and opportunities to older age groups, women in male-dominated sectors and minority ethnic groups. This ensures that the country is well-prepared for a future of automation in building a strong economy and being resilient to such changes by building an inclusive, diverse and productive workforce.
Focusing on retraining is a timely move
The Scheme, overseen by a partnership made up of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Government, is a part of the Government’s industrial strategy for building a country that ‘works for everyone’. It’s a timely move, and the initial targeting at those who do not have a degree-level qualification and are paid below a certain wage threshold is a welcome move.
As the country is going through a huge political flux, and jobs are increasingly becoming automated and look set to become even more so, reskilling and retraining the existing workforce is especially important to help build skilled workforces, encourage worker productivity and help the growth of the economy.
For this scheme to work for everyone and to build a future workforce and economy that helps everyone, the Government must focus on building an inclusive and diversified workforce. To ensure an inclusive and diversified workforce that can help build the economy, growth, productivity, this means reskilling and retraining of the vulnerable and those at risk of marginalisation, such as older workers, women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and medicine) sectors and minority ethnic groups.