Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance

The Prospects for Skills and Employment in an Age of Digital Disruption: A Cautionary Note

Will robots eat our jobs?  Is an AI employment apocalypse just around the corner, or will we be working a three day week alongside robot co-workers?  The impact of digital innovation on work, employment and skills is hotly contested and big news.  The Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE) has commissioned an overview of the research in this area, and we are pleased to be launching on Friday 16th November a SKOPE Research Paper that tries to cut thought the all the hype.  The paper has been written by Professors Phil Brown, Caroline Lloyd and Manuel Souto-Otero from the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University and it examines competing claims on the relationship between automation, skills and the future of work. It explores the research evidence on the scale of job losses anticipated as a consequence of digital disruption, and presents three scenarios of the impact of digital disruption on future skill requirements, before considering how evidence on automation and digital disruption is used to influence and inform UK government policy interventions on skills, employment and labour markets.

The paper recommends caution in interpreting existing evidence. While high profile reports on digital disruption make for eye-catching headlines, they make for poor policy formulation. A key message is that technology is not destiny. It is human decisions that will determine the future of work.

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