UK scheme to retrain workers ousted by AI

The UK government has launched a scheme aimed at helping retrain workers whose jobs are likely to become obsolete as a result of automation and AI.

The National Retraining Scheme, which will be trialled initially in Liverpool, comes in the wake of a report last month from the research firm Oxford Economics, which estimated that up to 20 million manufacturing jobs worldwide could be replaced by robots by 2030.

Industrial and service sectors will lose jobs 

Additionally, the report warned that those affected in the industrial sector would find similar problems in the service sector unless they were trained in new skills. It estimated that twice as many higher-skilled jobs would go for each low-level worker replaced by a robot.Education Secretary Damian Hinds, who said that while AI and automation were transforming the way Britons lived and worked, as well as delivering “huge benefits” to the economy, they would, inevitably, make some jobs a “thing of the past”.

National Retraining Scheme will help adults gain new skills 

He added, “The National Retraining Scheme will be pivotal in helping adults across the country whose jobs are at risk of changing, to gain new skills and get on the path to a new, more rewarding career.“This is a big and complex challenge, which is why we are starting small, learning as we go, and releasing each part of the scheme only when it’s ready to benefit its users.”Vinous Ali, head of policy at techUK, the body representing the nation's tech industry, welcomed the government's initiative."It is right that the government is starting small to ensure lessons are learnt, and adaptations are made along the way, but the ambition to scale so that this becomes a truly national retraining scheme cannot be lost," he told the BBC. 

No job likely to remain untouched by the fourth Industrial Revolution 

"Whilst the focus is on job displacement, the fact is no job is likely to remain untouched by the fourth Industrial Revolution, so we will all need to learn new skills."This means we need to be making significant investments in lifelong learning and helping people to navigate a pathway through this change." Matthew Fell, chief UK policy director at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said, “Ensuring our country’s workforce is fit for the 21st century, particularly the challenges and opportunities presented by automation, is vital if we are to improve productivity growth, which is the only sustainable route to higher wages and living standards.“As the world of work changes, employers – supported by government - have a crucial role to play in providing opportunities that help people learn throughout their careers. And as it develops, the national retraining partnership should become part of wider cross-government efforts aimed at embracing the fourth industrial revolution.”

Scheme rolled out in Liverpool 

The Department for Education said the National Retraining Scheme had begun its initial rollout in the Liverpool City region with the launch of a new digital service, Get Help to Retrain.A spokesman said, "The online service will help adults identify their existing skills, explore local job opportunities and where to go to find training courses to gain the skills they need to progress."Dedicated support will also be on hand from trained careers advisors to guide people through the process and provide expert information and advice."Robert Jenrick, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, added, “The pace of technological change has never been faster and the UK is well positioned to take advantage of that, but we also need to watch the backs of working people whose careers will be changed as a result.“The National Retraining Scheme is a £100 million programme to help people gain new skills in the workplace, change occupation if necessary and increase their pay and prospects.”Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory