The trade union Community asked Yvette Cooper MP to convene a new commission on workers and technology. The commission is chaired by Yvette and hosted by the Changing Work Centre – a joint research initiative from Community and the Fabian Society.
The aim of the commission is to take a ‘worker’s eye view’ of technology change in the workplace and especially the automation of existing job tasks. The commission will look in granular detail at case-study occupations and sectors to draw conclusions on what needs to happen to make new workplace technologies an opportunity not a threat for typical workers.
The commission will meet over 18 months – reporting in early 2020 – and its programme will include visits to a wide range of workplaces to meet management and workers who are in the process of planning and implementing technology change. It will draw lessons from individual businesses and sectors in order to set out conclusions and recommendations for the whole British labour market.
The commission will develop proposals for national government policy but it also aims to have a direct impact on workplaces. The project has been instigated by Community partly with the aim of developing the union’s own thinking on how it should work in partnership with employers as they adopt new technologies.
|Areas of focus|
|Creating good jobs – Labour-saving technology can be used to de-skill job roles or to create rewarding high-value work augmented by technology. The commission will examine how to maximise the prospects for more secure, high-quality jobs, looking at the interventions required at workplace, sector and national level.|
|Workers and change – most of the workforce of 2030 is already in work so the commission will examine how to develop current workers’ preparedness and resilience to help them to adapt well to technology change. It will examine the support and training required to help workers thrive in changing job roles and to make successful transitions to new jobs or sectors.|
|Industrial partnership – the commission will examine how government, trade unions and employers can work positively together both to shape good jobs and to support workers through change. It will ask what unions need to do to support innovation and to ensure that no one is left behind; and what employers who are automating need to do to take their workers with them and give them a strong voice.|
The following questions are derived from the Commission’s terms of reference and relate to the UK context. You may choose to answer all, or some, of the questions and you may wish to respond with regard to your specific sector/industry or in general terms.
We are seeking responses from all interested parties, including employers, trade unions, academics, think tanks, and public bodies.
1. What technological changes are likely to have the greatest impact, in terms of both opportunities and challenges, on workers in Britain between now and 2030?
2. How can technological change be best managed and promoted so as to have a positive effect for workers?
Issues you might address:
- Adopting technology to create better jobs
- Support for workers to adapt and re-train
- Worker involvement in change
- Trade union/employer partnerships
- Workforce productivity
- National public policy
- Local and regional leadership
- Sectoral leadership
- Interaction with other trends (e.g. de-carbonising industry, population ageing)
3. How might technological change affect models of work and working practices, and how can workers’ rights be best protected?
Issues you might address:
- New models of trade unionism
- Employment relations and rights at work
- Worker participation or control (including changes to business governance models)
4. As the disruptive effects of technological change on workers are likely to have a disproportionate effect upon certain groups and areas, what particular attention is required to ensure that the positive effects of new technologies are distributed across the workforce?
Issues you might address:
- Jobs in which high numbers of women are employed
- Different parts of the country
- Workers aged over 45
- People with few or obsolete skills
5. What best practice globally and in the UK should the Commission learn from to ensure that the challenges of technological change are handled effectively?
HOW TO RESPOND AND GENERAL GUIDANCE
- We are especially interested in understanding models of best practice in the area. If you are engaged in schemes that seek to ensure that technological change benefits working practices and conditions, then please include details with your response.
- Please submit your response to this call as an email – or as a Word Document attachment to an email – to Jason.Brock@fabians.org.uk.
- Please include your full name and contact details in your submission and detail whether you are responding as an individual or on behalf of an organisation.
- If your submission is over 1500 words please include a summary of your key points at the beginning of your submission.
Yvette Cooper MP [Chair of the Commission]
Yvette was elected as the Member of Parliament for Pontefract and Castleford in 1997 and has represented the constituency at Westminster for the last 20 years. She served in Government between 2008 and 2010 as Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Yvette has also represented the official opposition as Shadow Foreign Secretary and Shadow Home Secretary, chaired the Labour Party’s Refugee Taskforce and is now Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee. Yvette has long campaigned on the issues of extra help for working parents, tackling child poverty, the promotion of women’s rights and family reunion for refugees.
Hasan Bakhshi [Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics, Nesta]
Hasan leads Nesta’s creative and digital economy research programme and is a recognised authority in the field. His recent work includes co-authoring the Next Gen skills review of the video games and visual effects industries, which has led to wholesale reforms of the school ICT and computing curriculum in England, and the Manifesto for the Creative Economy, which sets out ten recommendations by which governments can help the creative economy grow. He is also an adjunct professor at the Queensland University of Technology.
Alina Dimofte [Public Policy and Government Relations Manager, Google UK]
Alina is Public Policy Manager for Google UK with responsibility for skills and education policy. In this role Alina has developed Google’s UK digital skills programmes that have helped over 300,000 people and businesses in the UK make the most out of the digital economy. She sits on the Government’s Digital Skills Partnership and is also responsible for Google’s creative industries and copyright policy work. Prior to working at Google, has worked in communications consultancies and has received a MSc in European Public Policy from UCL.
Sue Ferns [Deputy General Secretary, Prospect]
Sue has been deputy general secretary of Prospect since 2013 and was previously their head of research. Her responsibilities in Prospect include leading the union’s work on equal opportunities, legal services, skills, campaigning and communications, and on science, engineering and sustainability. Sue has been a member of the TUC General Council since 2005. She is also Chair of Unions 21.
Paul Nowak [Deputy General Secretary, Trades Union Congress]
Paul has been TUC deputy general secretary since 2016. He previously held roles and was an activist in CWU, GMB, Unison, and BIFU. He introduced the TUC’s Leading Change programme.
Roy Rickhuss [General Secretary, Community]
Roy has been General Secretary of Community since 2013 and also represents Community on the TUC General Council and is a member of the Executive Council of the General Federation of Trade Unions. He worked in a steel tube rolling mill before becoming a full-time union officer.
Kriti Sharma [Vice President, Artificial Intelligence, Sage]
Kriti is an Artificial Intelligence technologist and a leading global voice on AI ethics and its impact on society. In addition to advising global businesses on AI, she focuses on AI for Social Good. She built her first robot at the age of 15 in India and has been building AI technologies to solve global issues ever since, from productivity to education to domestic violence. Kriti was recently named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for advancements in AI and was included in the Recode 100 list of key influencers in technology in 2017. She was invited as a Civic Leader by the Obama Foundation Summit for her work in ethical technology. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Google Grace Hopper Scholar and recently gave expert testimony on AI Policy to the UK Parliament in the House of Lords. Earlier this year, Kriti spearheaded the launch of the Sage Future Makers Lab, a forum that will equip young people around the world with hands-on learning for entering a career in Artificial Intelligence. Kriti addressed the United Nations’ AI for Good Summit in Geneva on 16th May 2018.
Margaret Stevens [Professor of Economics, University of Oxford]
Margaret is a labour market economist and an expert on vocational and skills policy. She is currently head of the Department of Economics at the University of Oxford. The main application of her work has been to the economics of vocational training. In particular, Margaret has studied the effects of government policies on training in international context.