UK: Talent For Survival - Essential Skills For Humans Working In The Machine Age

Last Updated: 30 September 2016
Article by Angus Knowles-Cutler and Harvey Lewis

Most Read Contributor in UK, August 2017

Foreword

You may have heard that robots are coming for your job. Rapid advances in robotics, big data and artificial intelligence are beginning to disrupt entire industries, and technology is threatening to replace more than ten million UK workers. But a new debate is now raging between those who argue that we are ushering in an era of unprecedented technological unemployment, and those who claim that job prospects for people with the right mix of talent have never been better.

While the debate rages on, we have been examining the data that allows us to understand the changing demand for individual skills, knowledge and abilities caused by technology shifts.

Based on our analysis, we believe that, although Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills and knowledge are important in an increasingly digital economy, the UK will benefit most from a workforce that has a balance of technical skills and more general purpose skills, such as problem-solving skills, creativity, social skills and emotional intelligence.

We forecast that by 2030, such will be the demand for these general purpose skills that meeting it will require the equivalent of at least 4.5 million additional workers in professional occupations. We have also found that social skills and cognitive abilities are valued most in our shifting economy – a 10 per cent increase in cognitive abilities equates to a 12 per cent increase in median hourly earnings. But not all important skills and knowledge contribute to wage increases: the UK still has some way to go before vital jobs in education, health and social care, and many other nationally significant industries, feel the benefits of a workforce with the right mix of skills.

The UK may have significantly fewer jobs at high risk of automation than the likes of the US, China, India and South Africa, but there is no room for complacency. There are considerable challenges that policymakers, educators, and businesses have yet to overcome.

This paper is the latest in Deloitte's ongoing 'Business futures' research programme, which aims to provide insights into business in the future. We are committed not only to examining the potential impact of digital technologies on the labour market, on occupations and on different sectors of the economy, but also to helping our own workforce and the community adapt to life in the machine age.

We hope that you find this paper useful and look forward to your feedback.

Introduction

" We should automate work and humanise jobs. Let's give the mundane to the machines and the purpose back to people."

The Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP1

Conventional wisdom suggests that growth, productivity and innovation in a digital economy all require a supply of workers with matching digital skills, knowledge and abilities. This theory is supported by a growing body of evidence, according to the recent Wakeham Review, which notes that the majority of growth sectors in the UK are characterised by their strong reliance on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).2

In anticipation of a continuing shift towards greater use of technology and automation, the UK government has already instigated numerous policy changes, including introducing a new National Curriculum for schools, to ensure that the future stock of workers can meet increasingly technical employment requirements. Yet unemployment rates among recent graduates of STEM degrees remain paradoxically high. Are we still waiting for the promised transformation of the economy? Do businesses really need workers trained in STEM? Or are the UK's schools and universities simply failing to produce young workers with the necessary skills and knowledge?

Neither the Wakeham Review nor its sister investigation, the Shadbolt Review of Computer Sciences, have been able to pinpoint a precise cause.3 But both reviews do highlight the critical importance to employers of a broader set of general purpose skills and knowledge, including 'soft skills'. And in their recent book, "Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines", authors Thomas H. Davenport and Julia Kirby argue that, "We're entering an era when these soft skills will be more important than ever, and for many people they will be the best hope of gaining and maintaining employment."4

Deloitte's previous research estimated that 35 per cent of the UK's jobs are at high risk of automation in the next 10 to 20 years as a result of the introduction of automation and other labour-saving technology.5 The UK's economy may well be less exposed to the effects of automation than some others – in China, for example, the number of jobs estimated to be at high risk of automation is 77 per cent – but this hasn't prevented the 'techno‑pessimists' from forecasting that humans will become obsolete in the future.6

The reality, though, is far more nuanced and positive than the headlines would suggest: advances in technology create new employment opportunities for people with the right skills and specialist knowledge. Last year, for instance, we looked across 140 years of history in the form of census and labour force data to demonstrate that technology creates more jobs than it destroys.7,8 Indeed, between 2001 and 2015, we estimated that even as technology had contributed to the loss of 800,000 jobs in the UK, it had helped to create 3.5 million more in the same period. Each new job pays, on average, an additional £10,000 per annum, resulting in a boost of £140 billion to the UK's economy in new wages.

This optimistic view is consistent with the principle of "stepping aside", introduced by Davenport and Kirby in their book, in which it is claimed that there will be more jobs that lay the emphasis on skills at the "humanlike" end of the spectrum rather than being focused on fact, recall, logic and computation.9 David Autor, the eminent MIT academic, suggests that, "journalists and even expert commentators tend to overstate the extent of machine substitution for human labour and ignore the strong complementarities between automation and labour that increase productivity, raise earnings, and augment demand for labour."10 And Carl Benedikt Frey, co-author of "The Future of Employment" and contributor to Deloitte's work on automation, says, "I think it unlikely that robots will enter the domain of complex social interactions or jobs that require creativity or perception, and manipulation of irregular objects."11,12

So while it feels intuitively necessary in an increasingly digital world for policymakers and educators to focus on the acquisition and application of STEM knowledge and skills in the workforce, STEM by itself is not sufficient to ensure future employability or economic prosperity. Instead, we need to consider what skills, knowledge and abilities are needed for the vast majority of jobs as well as those that provide workers with the flexibility to adapt to or specialise in a rangeof roles. Every worker needs a balanced 'kit bag' ofskills – not simply to avoid being substituted by machines but also to help them adapt to working alongside machines in a smarter, more efficient and productive economy.

This new research thus follows on from previous Deloitte studies into the impact of technology on jobs. Using detailed occupational data from the US Occupational Information Network (O*NET) and labour and earnings statistics from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), we assess the importance of 120 different skills, abilities and areas of knowledge in the workforce as the mix of occupations changes as a consequence of the introduction of smart machines and automation. We consider the impact nationally and also by main industry sector and occupational group. And, we forecast the likely impact that these ongoing shifts will have on the economy in 2030. Finally, we discuss the challenges that all organisations are likely to face, and provide a set of key questions for policymakers, educators and business leaders to answer.

Download Full Report >> Talent For Survival - Essential Skills For Humans Working In The Machine Age

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.