Businesses and trade bodies have urged the government and industry to embrace the rise of robots and better prepare workers and future generations. The business, energy, and industrial strategy (BEIS) committee is in the midst of an inquiry into the automation and the future of work in the UK. Read more:The robots are coming – and theyre (potentially) after your job The inquiry has looked into the UKs readiness for automation, while also exploring whether the government should introduce a robot tax to disincentivise the replacement of workers with machines.

Robot tax

In response, Ocado chief technology officer said an “ideological war” was waging between optimists and dystopians when it came to how an AI future would pan out. He said the UK needed to strike the right balance between legislation and innovation. “If we get this balance wrong and unduly subdue our innovation, then countries who prioritise innovation will have the advantage. “Legislating against a future some may fear could lead to unintended consequences that will leave the UK far behind its international peers.” TechUK said such a tax, as well as scaremongering about the impact of automation would only serve to deter companies from adopting the technology. The trade body said businesses needed incentives to boost automation adoption for the UK to remain competitive globally. “The UK currently has time to get these decisions right, but the increasing adoption of these technologies means the clock is ticking.
It said the country had time to make the right decisions around automation but was being distracted by Brexit. “Of course, while this is crucial to the future prosperity of the country and its businesses we risk falling behind others in key areas, such as education reform and preparing the population for the fourth industrial revolution – this needs to change,” techUK told the committee. Last week research by KPMG and recruitment firm Harvey Nash found that as many as one in five financial services sector jobs could be replaced by robots within the next five years. More than 40 per cent of banks said they expected a fifth or more of their workforce to be replaced by robots, rising to nearly half for insurance companies.

Upskilling the workforce

In responding to the BEIS committee inquiry, automation giant Siemens predicted that two thirds of todays primary school pupils will eventually work in jobs which do not exist yet. The German industrial manufacturer said one million UK workers needed to be upskilled in the next five years alone. A degree course in Control and Automation is only available at one university in the country, and Siemens urged the government to “embed” the programme across the country. “The reality is that low skilled repetitive work is at risk of automation. Yet a lack of digital skills is a real barrier to preventing the country achieving its goal of Read More – Source

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