Government: We ‘Must Help’ Workforce Retrain As Businesses Digitise

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Minister for the Cabinet Office Matthew Hancock says digitisation and automation can help economy but recognises need to help people make transition

The government claims the benefits of business digitisation outweigh the negatives and that it would help those who lose their jobs as a result of automation acquire new skills and find new jobs.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Matthew Hancock said that the evidence was “overwhelming” that technology could help economies and societies and that people should not fear the inevitable changes to the labour market that will ensue.

“A debate is going on around the world about how technology is either strengthening economies or leading to a labour gap and people losing jobs,” he said at the BT Tower in London today, adding that he supported the former view.

Government support.

Matthew Hancock“A successful economy is one where you unambiguously support new tech that improves productivity and help people with that transition.

“We need to help people through these changes but humanity overall is better off [by adopting more technology].”

Numerous tech vendors are pushing the idea of digitisation or automation of business processes and manufacturing, claiming it can lead to greater efficiency and reduced costs. This view is reinforced by the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), which allow companies to take remote, automated actions thanks to advanced networking applications and data gathered from sensors.

When asked by TechWeekEurope about what kind of support would be offered, Hancock said it was important to teach people about transferable skills that can land them a job far more satisfying than watching an assembly line with a clip board. Apprenticeships would also play a key part, he said, as the government looks to address any looming skills gap.

“Demand for typists has fallen in half for the past 20 years,” he offered as an example. “People who are typists need to retrain. It’s nothing to do with government, its technology.”

A report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in January claimed that increasing automation would lead to a loss of around 7.1 million roles, with just 2 million created to offset this.

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