It is thought that one third of roles currently carried out by people aged 16 to 24 could be done by robots by 2030. Supermarket workers, over-the-counter bank staff, security guards, waitresses, cleaners, bar workers and those in administrative roles are said to be most at risk – but technology is advancing at such speed, no job is safe. Tory MP Robert Halfon said Britain is “woefully unprepared” for “the march of the robots”.
Mr Halfon, who is also chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, said: “The Bank of England found 15 million UK jobs could be at risk of automation.
“People need to re-skill and up-skill, and to achieve this, root and branch reform of our education system is necessary.”
Mr Halfon claims that since 2010, the number of young people applying to take a GCSE in design and technology has fallen by almost two-thirds.
This particular qualification will likely be a basic requirement in the coming years.
Mr Halfon, the MP for Harlow, is calling for GCSEs to be axed, however, and replaced with a broader baccalaureate system to prepare young people for the approaching revolution.
Recent figures show around nine million working-aged adults in England have low basic literacy and numeracy skills.
As a result, Mr Halfon has ordered an inquiry into the benefits of adult skills and lifelong learning, which is due in autumn.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said automation was “transforming the way we live and work” and added: “We need to ensure our workforce is ready to take advantage of those changes.
“As the Prime Minister has said, further education and skills will be a priority for this Government and the Education Secretary taking the lead for this vital work is a reflection of that commitment.”
Comment by Robert Halfon
Some 15 million UK jobs could be at risk of automation. This will hit disadvantaged people the hardest.
It is estimated that 46 per cent of the jobs done by those with just GCSE-level education or lower are in danger.
Further education colleges provide a local and vital lifeline of education. Yet, they have seen a 16 per cent fall in funding over the last decade.
The Government must put this right or our skills base will never be prepared for the fourth industrial revolution.
Many of those who will be affected by the rise of the robots are already working and must not be forgotten. I’d like to see an adult community learning centre in every town and tax-reliefs for employers who invest in training.
Our future will be unrecognisable. But, if we get this right, Britain will march alongside the robots rather than be left behind.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail – we must plan ahead to ensure our economy and society is fit for the 21st century and beyond.