Automation will force 9 in 10 workers to re-skill, at a cost of £13bn

Nine out of 10 UK workers will need re-skilling for the digital economy by 2030, at a cost of
£13 billion a year, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned.

A report on the need for more adult education, based on analysis by McKinsey & Company, highlighted the rising threat of automation to millions of UK jobs, arguing that re-skilling has become more urgent as a result of the Coronavirus.

The industry body last month welcomed the prime minister’s ‘lifetime skills guarantee’ for UK
workers whose jobs have been affected by the pandemic, but this morning warned ministers that they needed to “go further and faster” to prevent widespread unemployment and economic damage.

The report found that new technologies and the changing nature of our economy are transforming the skills needed for many jobs, while other roles are being lost entirely.

The CBI’s analysis also shows that failure to invest will harm the livelihoods of the most disadvantaged.

Participation in training by those in lower-skilled jobs which are most at risk of automation
is 40 per cent lower than that for higher-skilled workers, while half of those in the lowest socioeconomic group in the UK have received no training since leaving school.

As COVID-19 accelerates changes to the world of work, the UK should use this momentum to drive a national re-skilling effort to futureproof livelihoods and power UK competitiveness, the CBI stated.

The report also shed light on how changes in the economy, fuelled by digitisation and automation,will dramatically change the skills sought by employers.

These include: 21 million people who will need basic digital skills; 16 million who will need critical thinking and information processing skills; and 15 million who will need skills in leadership and management.

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director general, commented: “Ensuring people can adapt to the changing world of work will be one of the most important missions this country embarks on in the next decade.

"Jobs were already changing with nine out of ten employees needing to re-skill over the next
decade," she said, adding: “The right skills strategy can help every worker to progress their careers, drive up living standards and level-up the country - but a failure to act will leave businesses facing skills shortages and workers facing long-term unemployment."

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