Scotland needs to develop new skills as era of automation threatens half of jobs

Urgent reform is needed to deal with the rise of automation, which threatens half of Scottish jobs, a leading think-tank has warned. The stark warning comes in a new report from IPPR Scotland, supported by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. Scotland’s Skills 2030 outlines the need to reskill Scotland’s workforce for the world of work in 2030. The study claims that 46 percent of jobs in Scotland – or 1.2 million – are at high risk of automation up to 2030 and beyond. It suggests that Scotland’s skills system needs to “retrofit” the workforce with the skills to be ready for technological change – 2.5 million adults in Scotland today (or 78 percent) will still be of working in 2030, report adds.

The report found that there is a clear gap in mid-career training and learning provision as the current system focuses on early or pre-career learning, which will not be enough to ready Scotland for the future. It also claims that there is a ‘progression gap’ in the workplace, where low-skilled workers are less likely to see investment in their skills or training, and less likely to progress from low-skilled work than many other parts of the UK.

The report recommends that Scotland needs a new learning route, the Open Institute of Technology, to provide mid-career provision, to boost progression, and to retrofit Scotland’s workforce.

Russell Gunson, Director of IPPR Scotland, said: “There are more than 2.5 million people already in the workforce today that will still be working by 2030. There are also 1.2m jobs in Scotland at risk of automation over the same time. Scotland urgently needs to design a skills system better able to work with people already into their careers to help them to retrain, reskill and respond to world of work of 2030.

“Scotland has a really strong record on skills in many ways, and in this report we find that Scotland is the highest skilled nation in the UK. However, our system has a clear gap in that we don’t have enough provision for people who have already started their careers, and employers are not investing to fill this gap. To respond to the huge changes facing Scotland around demographic, technological and climate change – and of course Brexit – we’re going to have to focus on retrofitting the current workforce to provide them with the skills they need, to deliver the inclusive economic growth we wish to see.

“Our report makes a number of recommendations to help Scotland plot a path through these challenges, to reform the skills system in Scotland, to help to secure an economy that delivers fairness and reduces inequality. Without reform of the skills system we could see changes to the economy harm whole sections of population, and whole communities, leaving many behind.”

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