Over a third of workers are anxious about the impact of automation

Over a third of workers are anxious about the impact of automationA significant number (37 per cent) of workers (11 million people) in the UK worry their job will change for the worse and 23 per cent (7 million people) are concerned that their current job may no longer be needed, claims a survey into the impact of automation over the next decade. In the survey, carried out to mark the launch of a new Commission on Workers and Technology chaired by Yvette Cooper MP, workers were 73 per cent confident they can adapt to technological change and update their skill if automation affects their job and over half think (53 per cent) are optimistic that technology change will be good for their working lives. However, few think the government, employers or trade unions are taking action to support workers as technologies change: only 9 per cent of workers think that the UK government is taking steps to prepare them for new workplace technologies and only 27 per cent of employees think their employer is providing support.

The two-year commission organised by the Changing Work Centre – a joint research initiative from Community and the Fabian Society – will identify the immediate actions that government, employers and trade unions need to take to support workers as technology impacts on jobs during the next 10 years. The Commission will hold public evidence sessions and visit workplaces to meet workers and managers as they navigate technology change. A public call for evidence is also opened today and contributions are invited from trade unions, businesses, academia, think tanks, and other interested parties and stakeholders. The Commission will produce a final report, co-authored by the commissioners in early 2020.

Launching the commission and commenting on the poll findings, Yvette Cooper MP, Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “The digital revolution means technology and jobs are changing faster than ever. Technology can have great benefits as well as create new challenges. Almost half of those surveyed said they thought their job would improve with new technology, however nearly a quarter were worried that their job would go altogether. It’s vital that action is taken now to make sure technology creates new better jobs and that all workers benefit from new technology. We have to make sure that automation and the digital revolution don’t widen inequality and that everyone gets the help and support they need to get on.

“I am delighted to be chairing the Commission on Workers and Technology and thank Community and the Fabian Society for initiating this vital work. We need to ensure that automation is an opportunity and not a threat for British workers.”