Daily Archives: December 23, 2020
The scale of the challenge that automation poses to the jobs market needs to be met with much stronger action to upskill the workforce, finds a new report published by a committee in the UK Parliament.
The House of Lords’ select committee on artificial intelligence raised concerns at the “inertia” that is slowing down the country when it comes to digital skills, and urged the government to take steps to make sure that people have the opportunity to reskill and retrain, to be able to adapt to the changing labor market that AI is bringing about.
Citing research carried out by Microsoft, the committee stressed that only 17% of UK employees say that they have been part of reskilling efforts, which sits well below the global average of 38%.
Microsoft also recently reported that almost 70% of business leaders in the UK believe that their organization currently has a digital skills gap, and that two-thirds of employees feel that they do not have the appropriate digital skills to fulfil new and emerging roles in their industry.Even basic digital skills are lacking: a recent Lloyds Bank survey found that 19% of individuals in the UK couldn’t complete tasks such as using a web browser.
For the past three years, the government has been offering a national retraining scheme, which aims to upskill UK citizens, partly as a result of automation. Wendy Hall, a professor of computer science at the University of Southampton, who provided evidence to the Lords for the report, said that the UK is currently “nowhere near ready” when it comes to building up the skills that are necessary to mitigate the impact of automation on jobs.
Meanwhile, found the report, AI systems are growing at a fast pace. While in 2015, the UK saw £245 million ($326 million) invested in AI, that number jumped to £1.3 billion ($1.73 billion) in 2019. Automated systems are now prevalent in many industries, ranging from agriculture to healthcare, through to financial services, retail and logistics.