The government on the 18th July 2019 have released details about their national retraining scheme, which aims to retrain workers that are likely to lose their jobs to artificial intelligence (AI) in the future.
The government has also revealed that the initial test run is currently underway in Liverpool with a small number of eligible people.
According to the government’s policy paper, the scheme has been put in to place to “to prepare adults for future changes to the economy”.
Research from Oxford Martin School and Deloitte predicts that 35 per cent of UK jobs are at high risk from automation over the next two decades.
The national retraining scheme will support those aged 24 or over, who do not have a degree and who earn low or medium wages, as the government believes they “are most in need of adapting their skills for new opportunities”.
This scheme will take the form of blended learning, a mix between online and face-to-face training.
It will involve:
- Training the participants in Maths and English in order to improve their functional skills
- Technical training and learning vocational skills on the job
- Support from a qualified national careers service adviser who will provide guidance about new jobs and opportunities.
HRreview reached out to experts who held very mixed opinions towards this new scheme.
Laura Timms, product strategy manager at MHR Analytics, was approving of this scheme and stated that “automation improves and refines how human skills are utilised”. An example of this is in the finance industry where “professionals’ roles are evolving from repetitive manual data input to strategists, economists and analysts who are increasingly relied on to inform and guide big business decisions.”
Oleg Rogynskyy, CEO and founder of People.AI, a company that specialises in implementing AI solutions to organisations, also viewed the scheme positively but believes that it is a mistake to view AI as an enemy:
There is no doubt that AI will change the nature of work for many people, but it shouldn’t be interpreted as a bad thing. It is good to see government support as the future of work evolves, but characterizing this as finding “better jobs” casts all AI as an enemy making roles redundant. This is a dangerous precedent to set.
Businesses that adopt AI and deploy it effectively will not only have the opportunity to expand their business but, additionally, will be able to create new roles. AI should not be seen as a threat, but should be seen as an opportunity to solve more complex and interesting decisions.
Louise Pasterfield, founder and managing director of Sponge, a digital learning provider, stresses this scheme must be handled in the correct way.
Ms Pasterfield said:
The Department of Education’s research suggests that online training meets people’s needs for flexibility but suggests there is work to be done to change negative perceptions based on poor previous learning experiences and a lack of confidence. Training needs to be engaging, fun even, to inspire adults to want to learn and achieve desired outcomes.
It seems only natural to use digital learning to prepare people for a more automated world. The key here is to take a ‘human-centered’ approach in learning design, reflective of the audience and their knowledge-levels –user interface and ease of use are critical to learner experience.
Agata Nowakowska, area vice president at Skillsoft, an eLearning software company, was careful to stress the need to keep gender in mind whilst carrying out this scheme:
Research shows the trend towards automation is already proving especially challenging for women, with significant implications for gender equality in the workplace.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) argues that too much focus on the threat automation poses to men has skewed the view of automation from a gender perspective, with female-dominated roles like administration, transaction processing and other back office roles facing significant risk of displacement.
The challenge for employers and the government is to make sure that everyone, regardless of gender, age or location, shares in the spoils of new technology.
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