Thursday, 4 Jun 2020

MPs are 'clueless' about the impact robots and new technology has on workers

MPs are “clueless” about the impact of robots and new technology on workers, the Government’s gig economy adviser has warned.

In a model of the workforce in 2035 Matthew Taylor says the rapid trend towards automation will trigger more inequality, put the workforce under “constant surveillance,” push down wages and deepen regional divisions across the UK.

These will have a bigger impact on workers than simple job losses, he warns.

A survey of MPs by his RSA think tank found that less than half of them “feel they have the expertise to make sound judgements about tech policy”.

Only 15 per cent said MPs were doing enough to prepare workers for new technologies.

Mr Taylor’s report recommends a five-point “game plan” to help the workforce deal with new technology.

He calls for a pilot of Universal Basic Income to prepare for when many workers experience income “yo-yoing” – and also allow workers to take time out of work to care for elderly relatives.

Mr Taylor also recommends strengthening workers’ rights, calls for individual training ‘budgets’ for every citizens to ensure they update their skills and a new “consumer transaction charge” to be paid by customers in order to give workers access to benefits like sick or paternity pay.

And finally he calls for low-skilled jobs to become professional, which would “lend status to more job types and encourage career progression”.

Mr Taylor says: “Yet we do have choices. We can choose to establish a robust regulatory regime for technology and data rights. We can choose to create a tax system that shifts the burden onto those with the broadest shoulders.

We can choose to overhaul our education system so that we treat lifelong learning more seriously. And we can choose to create a competition policy that stands up to the power of large firms when they impinge on the wellbeing of workers.”

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