Automation poses a high risk to 1.2m Scottish jobs, report says
Nearly half of Scottish jobs could be carried out by machines in just over 10 years’ time, a report has warned.
The Institute for Public Policy Research Scotland said 46% of jobs – about 1.2 million – were at “high risk” of automation in the period up to 2030.
The think tank’s research says that, by then, adults are “more likely to be working longer, and will often have multiple jobs”.
It said skills qualifications “should be reviewed”.
IPPR Scotland said changes were needed so people could get more training and career support when they were midway through their working life.
The think tank wants to see the establishment of an Open Institute of Technology to achieve this, saying this could bring about “improved rates of career progression, pay and productivity, starting in low-skill sectors”.
It also recommends the establishment of a new unit to tackle what it calls the “progression gap” – poor levels of career progression which can hold back low-skilled workers.
It said it suspected this problem was “related to the attainment gap at school” and added that addressing the issue would “work to tackle rates of in-work poverty and drive social mobility in Scotland”.
It put forward the recommendations in its Scotland’s Skills 2030 report, which said: “The world of work in 2030 will be very different to that in 2017. People are more likely to be working longer, and will often have multiple jobs, with multiple employers and in multiple careers.
“Over 2.5 million adults in Scotland (nearly 80%) will still be of working age by 2030. At the same time, over 46% of jobs (1.2 million) in Scotland are at high risk of automation.
“We will therefore need a skills system ready to work with people throughout their careers.
While qualifications levels “have been steadily improving and are higher than levels in the UK as a whole”, the report said that Scotland “continues to have lower rates of in-work progression” than the UK as a whole, while pay rates have reduced in real terms and are behind those for the UK.
It added that there is a “clear gap in mid-career provision, which employers are not addressing”.
The think tank suggested that skills qualifications “should be reviewed to ensure they remain fit for their purpose” and also called for the Scottish government to consider how business tax allowances could be used to encourage investment in skills by employers.
IPPR Scotland director Russell Gunson said: “Scotland urgently needs to design a skills system better able to work with people already into their careers to help them to retrain, re-skill and respond to world of work of 2030.”
He added: “Scotland has a really strong record on skills in many ways, and in this report we find that Scotland is the highest-skilled nation in the UK.
“However, our system has a clear gap in that we don’t have enough provision for people who have already started their careers, and employers are not investing to fill this gap.
“To respond to the huge changes facing Scotland around demographic, technological and climate change – and of course Brexit – we’re going to have to focus on retrofitting the current workforce to provide them with the skills they need, to deliver the inclusive economic growth we wish to see.
“Our report makes a number of recommendations to help Scotland plot a path through these challenges, to reform the skills system in Scotland, to help to secure an economy that delivers fairness and reduces inequality.
‘Relentless pace of change’
“Without reform of the skills system we could see changes to the economy harm whole sections of population, and whole communities, leaving many behind.”
A Scottish government spokesman said: “Our Labour Market Strategy recognises that Scotland’s workforce is highly educated, flexible and adaptable. It’s already responding well to the challenges of the 21st Century.
“We know the pace of technological change will be relentless in the years ahead, but we are confident there will be opportunities, as well as challenges, for a country with Scotland’s fundamental economic strengths.”