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Challenges in the age of automation: four potential solutions

Some expect the technological revolution, from automation to algorithms, to be as disruptive as the Industrial Revolution. With research showing that jobs in the north of England are most at risk, what can be done?

Some expect the technological revolution, from automation to algorithms, to be as disruptive as the Industrial Revolution. With research showing that jobs in the north of England are most at risk, what can be done?

1. Support to shift from old jobs

Politicians, trade unions and business leaders, if they act quickly, could help ensure that technological change leads to plentiful, good-quality jobs for all. For example, unions and businesses could create reskilling courses for those displaced by machines. And, as the climate crisis deepens, could automation be a chance to help usher in a new, green industrial revolution?

Image: Zbynek Burival

2. View automation as opportunity

Automating routine data or calculation tasks could free people up to use their strategic and emotional intelligence instead. In a pilot scheme in Bremen, Germany, the postal service has teamed up with local government, healthcare and welfare groups to allow post workers to call in on older citizens as part of their daily rounds. It opens up new roles while reducing the burden on care providers.

Image: Absolutvision

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3. Invest in education and skills

Higher levels of education have been shown to help protect workers from automation. The Office for National Statistics said that, of the jobs at risk in the UK, 39 per cent are held by people whose educational attainment level is GCSE or below, while 1.2 per cent are held by those who have been through higher education or university.

Image: Hope House Press

4. Tax robot-driven firms more

Some, including the UK Labour party, have suggested a robot tax: taxing profits that have been generated by automation, with the money used to retrain those affected, or to forcibly spread out the proceeds of this new type of growth. It might surprise you to hear that self-described techno-optimist Bill Gates has also backed the idea.

Image: Fabian Blank

What progress and solutions do you see where you are in the UK? Share your thoughts via email to newsdesk@positive.news or by messaging us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram by mentioning @PositiveNewsUK and #UnitedKingdomofSolutions

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