Make UK urges government to focus on upskilling for AI era
23 Apr 2019
Manufacturers’ association Make UK has called for more help to be made available for firms wishing to upskill employees as the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace increases.
Head of education and skills policy Verity Davidge said changes to government provision including the new National Retraining Scheme might be needed.
She said: “Currently the scheme is being aimed at those employees whose jobs are at risk of being displaced as a result of AI and digitisation within their companies.
“But it fails to look at the fact that most companies want to retain their workers by up-skilling them to fill new jobs digital technologies will create or place these employees in other parts of the business.”
She was speaking after the publication of Make UK’s latest research which examines companies’ attitudes towards AI.
It shows that one third of manufacturers who responded said they expect low skilled jobs to be lost over the next five years.
More than half say they plan to retrain such staff in order that they can take up new jobs that innovation would help create or be redeployed to existing functions.
Make UK has called for more focus on enabling firms to provide such training and employment, in preference to workers being forced to move to other sectors or employers.
Added Davidge: “The cost of retraining and up-skilling a manufacturer can be high, and the National Retraining Scheme, when it is properly rolled out across the country, needs to be more widely available including those employers who wish to up-skill their current workers as well as for those employees who do find themselves in a position where they are looking for alternative employment.”
The survey also suggests employers are focusing strongly on the strategic use of training budgets: More than two thirds plan to spend some of this money on technical engineering skills aimed at existing staff in addition to apprenticeships.
The number seeking to invest in digital training remains surprisinbly low – at just 21% of the total number of respondents.
Asked where they expect job losses in the next five year period, while nearly one third (31%) predicted reductions in low skilled jobs, 22% expected medium skilled job losses and just 12% predicted high skilled role losses.