Role of lifelong learning in the 'fourth industrial revolution' in the spotlight

The Education Select Committee is set to explore the role of lifelong learning in reskilling the workforce

George Ryan

The role adult education and colleges play in preparing the labour market for technological disruption will be explored by MPs on the education select committee

The role that adult education and colleges play in preparing the labour market for technological disruption will be explored by MPs.  

The World Economic Forum, which holds an annual conference at the Swiss ski resort of Davos, set the theme of its 2016 gathering of world leaders around the topic of the fourth industrial revolution.

Since then, the term has entered common parlance and it is now widely characterised as concerning what impact that new technologies, including artificial intelligence and robotics, will have on the labour market with many low and medium skilled jobs believed to be at risk of automation.  

Now the education select committee is to explore the issue of preparing for the so-called fourth industrial revolution. Stressing the importance of the inquiry, committee chairman Robert Halfon said by the 2030s, as many as 28 per cent of the current jobs taken by 16- 24-year-olds are likely to be at risk of automation.

'We risk falling even further behind'

The UK is “already behind other countries” when it comes to skills, committee chair Mr Halfon added. “If we don’t prepare for the changes brought by the fourth industrial revolution we risk falling even further behind.

“If we are to truly benefit from the development of new technology, we must act quickly to make sure our education system and curriculum is ready. We must prepare our current and future workforce for new challenges, and ensure a focus on teaching the right skills in our schools and colleges.”

The committee will examine how best to prepare young people to take advantage of future opportunities and explore the role that teaching and learning in colleges and schools, as well lifelong learning, plays in that.

The select committee is inviting written evidence on:

  • The interaction between the government’s industrial, skills and digital strategies.
  • The suitability of the current curriculum to prepare young people for the fourth industrial revolution.
  • The impact of the fourth industrial revolution on the delivery of teaching and learning in schools and colleges.
  • The role of lifelong learning in re-skilling the current workforce.
  • Place-based strategies for education and skills provision.
  • The challenges and opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution for improving social justice and productivity.

The deadline for written submissions is Thursday 21 June.

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George Ryan

George Ryan

George Ryan is a further education reporter for tes

Find me on Twitter @GeorgeMRyan

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