Government and businesses are being urged to prepare for reskilling workers at risk from automation as almost half of the Scots population said they feared their jobs were at risk.
A study, conducted by PwC showed 45% of Scottish employees worried about being replaced by technology compared to just 38% across the UK.
Most workers in Scotland believe quotas should be introduced to protect human jobs from robots. However, there is a huge appetite among the Scottish workforce to evolve in-step with automation and reskill, according to the study.
Opito CEO John McDonald, said technological advances were creating jobs in the oil and gas industry and said it shouldn’t be feared if we work together to ensure training and qualification is effecitively delivered.
He said: “Advances such as Artificial Intelligence, automation and robotics are having a progressive and positive impact on the energy sector as it moves towards a lower carbon future. These new ways of working are creating thousands of job opportunities in positions which are either not in existence today or are an evolution of current roles.
“It is imperative that we take a collective responsibility to ensure jobs can be protected as well as created by providing the training and qualifications needed to elevate people’s capabilities. As the global skills body for the energy industry, we are working closely with governments as well as employers, trade unions, and academic institutions to deliver a strategic route map which will support the transformation of the sector and benefit today’s workforce and future generations.”
Stephen Ashley, digital solution centre manager at the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) said the energy industry needed to provide a “clear landscape” for the digital transition.
He added: “By 2025, 4,500 people will be in brand new roles that currently do not exist. This will only be made possible by harnessing the indigenous skills and expertise of the existing North Sea workforce, through development opportunities, utilising technology as a tool to train and simulate, to upskill and evolve – positioning the UKCS as a pioneer at the heart of innovation.”
The Making the UK fairer: How we work report found that workers also believe the UK government and businesses are responsible for ensuring the current workforce is reskilled where required, as automation begins to play an increasing role in the likes of manufacturing and production of goods.
More than one in seven Scots said they would be willing to take an online training course if their job was at risk to automation, with 64% willing to study full-time via distance learning and 51% prepared to study full-time at college or university. This acceptance of automation was compounded with 55% prepared to accept a lower or entry-level position at another company, and almost half (47%) prepared to take a lower salary.
The majority of Scots believe the job they are doing now will be different in 10 years’ time, inversing the view of workers across the UK. When asked to consider someone doing their job in a decade, 51% said it would be different, with 49% believing it would be the same. At a nationwide level, just 46% said it would be different.
Stewart Wilson, head of government and public sector of PwC in Scotland, said that with the world of work rapidly changing, government, employers and workers all have a responsibility to respond.
He said: “It is reassuring to see that so many people working in Scotland today both recognise the role that automation is going to play, and that they are keen to develop new skills in response to this. However, what our research tells us is that Government and business must ensure they collaborate to create opportunities for everyone – and that work must begin now.
“Our research has previously projected that more jobs will be created as a consequence of auto-mation in Scotland than displaced leading to a net benefit. But we must recognise that while automation can improve the lives of skilled workers it may make life more difficult for those less skilled and so the UK and Scottish Governments, along with local authorities and businesses need to work together to invest in upskilling initiatives which will benefit the whole workforce.”