Following on from our AutoNation video, Andy Durman — Emsi UK’s Managing Director — summarises the key aspects of our new report, how it presents a very different picture of automation than much of the media hype, and how education providers, economic developers and employers can use the data to plan for the future. A transcript of Andy’s comments is below the video.
What are the main highlights of Emsi’s AutoNation report?
We undertook the AutoNation report to try and really get beneath the headlines of some of the big concerns about the labour market, particularly around automation and the rise of robots, and the dystopian hype in the media right now. We really wanted to think about how it’s actually manifesting, what we can learn from the labour market, and how things might play out to a slightly different future, as well as providing some practical detail and understanding about what we might do to prepare for whatever future comes.
How does the report contrast with what we often hear about automation?
There’s a lot of hype about automation, particularly focusing on some of the major uncertainties and the negative end, which grabs headlines and gets media attention. I think what we’re trying to do here is think about what we can learn from what is actually happening. Automation isn’t a new thing — it’s been around for centuries — so what can we learn from what is happening in the labour market, how the labour market has adjusted, and what can we learn about how the labour market might continue to adjust. And let’s really start to think about practical short-term steps we can take with that uncertain future in mind. Forewarned is forearmed.
Why is understanding automation at the local level so important?
I suppose there are two key reasons: one is that real change happens on the ground. Jobs, people working, people living happens in place. Place is where industries, occupations and workers meet. Secondly, there are massive variations across this country. Variations in the industry and occupation mix, in the population base, and in productivity. With anything to do with the labour market, and particularly in the case of automation, there are going to be different levels of exposure at different levels, as we pick out in the report. And whilst we’re trying to focus on exposure, not necessarily in the negative, we can start to think about the positive impacts that embracing aspects of automation might play in terms of bringing a degree of growth in areas that are perhaps lagging behind on productivity. It’s an opportunity as much as it is reflective of the fact that we don’t have a single economy, and it will manifest in different ways in different places.
How can education providers, economic developers and businesses use the report?
Automation and the challenges, opportunities and exposure it brings, lies across all three dimensions and they’re all critical.
For education, it is very much about understanding the continued importance of core skills and making sure that the curriculum offered to new entrants to the labour market, as much as those already in the labour market, reinforces those core human skills. There’s a rapid change in the technical skills, so there’s a need to continue to educate ourselves, and use the education system to help us through what is commonly referred to as lifelong learning — the need to continue to upskill and reskill, particularly on the more technical skills.
Economic developers really are drivers of change at the local level. We’ve talked about the importance of locality, and Local Enterprise Partnerships and the work they’re doing around the skills agenda is critical. But we’re also thinking about the role they and local authorities play with business in localities, in trying to help business thrive not just through harnessing the skills pipeline, and thinking about how they work with the existing workforce to upskill and embrace the opportunities that automation in the workforce will bring.
With employers it’s really the flipside of all of that, which is thinking about how they can be forewarned and pre-plan through their workforce planning activities to really think about the skills they have in the business right now, how those skills might need to change in the future, and how they can embrace the education system to really drive forward growth in their employees and therefore drive productivity within the workforce.
To download a copy of the full report, plus a free PDF focusing on automation exposure in your local economy, click on the button below.
We have now added an Automation Index into our Analyst tool, enabling users to very quickly see the task share exposure to automation for any occupation. To find out more, get in touch.