New report: Can cities outsmart the robots?
As the robot industry develops and debates on the ‘rise of the robots’ increase at a global level, Centre for Cities explores how automation and artificial intelligence could transform UK cities. Their research shows that some cities will be more vulnerable than others and that, without concerted action, socio-economic divides across the country are likely to widen. Stressing the need to understand the deeper meaning of these changes, the authors explore how the skill system adapts to respond to these changes.
Analytical and interpersonal skills, such as negotiation, coordination and critical thinking – skills that complement machines – are becoming increasingly important in all UK cities, whereas physical skills have decreased in demand.
These changes are explained by two factors:
- The changing composition of the labour market
- The changes in the skills sets required within existing occupations.
However, variation in educational attainment and participation in extra-curricular activities suggests that some cities are less well equipped to adapt to these changes.
Figure 1 and 2. Difference in demand for skills in Oxford and Stoke compared to the urban average, 2016.
According to the authors, a broad set of economic development interventions is needed to support economic growth and to increase demand fro analytical and interpersonal skills. However, urgent action is needed to ensure individuals have access to opportunities to develop these skills at every stage of their lives.
In this context, the report provides a set of policy recommendations in order to improve take-up and quality of provision at every stage:
- Cities should establish Skills Compacts to promote collective responsibility and action for improving education and training
- The Department for Education and the devolved administrations must match local efforts with increased flexibility for cities to experiment and tailor provision.
- The Department for Education should lead on creating a common framework to define interpersonal and analytical skills.
- The Government should take a crοss-departmental approach to raising investment and participation in lifelong learning, supported by a new What Works Centre for Adult Education.