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Robots could bring down state pension age

Economic gains made from digitalisation, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) should be used to reverse government policies to raise the state pension age, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has said.

05 SEP 2017 | CHRIS SEEKINGS
web_robot_shutterstock.jpeg
Robots to boost productivity ©Shutterstock

In a report released yesterday, it argues that technological change does not have to result in a loss of jobs, and that the rewards from higher productivity should be used to benefit working people.

As well as bringing down the state pension age, the economic gains could be used to provide everyone with a mid-life career review, increased wages, as well as more investment in training.

“With the UK failing to make productivity gains in the last decade, we need to make the most of the economic opportunities that new technologies are offering,” TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said.

“Robots and AI could let us produce more for less, boosting national prosperity. But we need a debate about who benefits from this wealth, and how workers get a fair share.”

The report highlights how the gains made from previous disruptions predominately went to business owners, rather being shared across the whole workforce.

It points out how manufacturing jobs lost in the 1950s were not replaced by ones of a similar or better quality in the communities affected, with wages in former industrial areas still 10% below the national average.

The research also shows how in the 50s almost one in three workers had manufacturing jobs, while one in 12 had ones in the professional and technical services – but by 2016 these shares had reversed.

A similar sort of disruption is expected as a result of the next technological revolution, with the TUC arguing that with two-thirds of the 2030 workforce already working, efforts must be made to ensure they are ready for the change.

“Robots are not just terminators. Some of today’s jobs will not survive, but new jobs will be created. We must make sure that tomorrow’s jobs are no worse than today’s,” O’Grady continued.

“They must provide fulfilling work, with good pay and conditions. And there must be funding to train people for new work if their job is made obsolete.”


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