Businesses should help fund the government’s National Retraining Scheme to combat the threat that technology poses to millions of jobs across the country, according to a new report by the House of Lords select committee on artificial intelligence.
It says that “the UK must be ready for the disruption that AI will have on the way in which we work”. The technology is set to “disrupt a wide range of jobs over the coming decades, and both blue- and white-collar jobs that exist today will be put at risk”.
The National Retraining Scheme “could play an important role” in helping people into other forms of work, but “must ensure that the recipients of retraining schemes are representative of the wider population”.
The report states: “Industry should assist in the financing of the National Retraining Scheme by matching government funding. This partnership would help improve the number of people who can access the scheme and better identify the skills required.”
The scheme, announced by the government last year, is aimed at helping people “re-skill and up-skill as the economy changes, including as a result of automation”. It is being developed by a partnership between government, the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress and will initially focus on “priority skills”, such as digital and construction.
Impact on jobs
Although the impact of artificial intelligence on jobs “remains highly uncertain”, many of those who gave evidence to the committee “believed that further government assistance in terms of adult retraining, reskilling and lifelong learning would be an effective means of preparation”.
The report cited evidence from the PHG Foundation, which called for an emphasis on “skillsets that arguably cannot easily be displaced by AI such as creativity, effective social interaction, manual dexterity and intelligence”.
Another organisation that had appeared before the committee, Research Councils UK, suggested that “in-career re-skilling will become the norm every 10 years”.
Lorry drivers are one example of an occupation at risk, with trials being planned for convoys of semi-automated lorries in the UK by the end of this year, which posed a risk to the haulage and logistics industry’s 2.2 million employees, claimed a submission by Future Advocacy to the committee.
Right to education
Significant government investment in skills and training will be necessary to mitigate the negative effects of AI and retraining will become a lifelong necessity, according to the report.
One of its recommendations is that an AI Code be established, including the principle that: “All citizens should have the right to be educated to enable them to flourish mentally, emotionally and economically alongside artificial intelligence”.