Fear of automation

Workers ‘not getting opportunity to learn new skills’

Workers say they want to learn new skills

Scottish workers are being denied the chance to learn new skills and fear they will be replaced by automation.

A new report Upskilling Hopes and Fears reveals that 80% of Scottish workers would take the opportunity to better understand or use technology if they were given the option by their employer.

However, currently only half of workers say their employer is giving them the opportunity to improve their digital skills outside their normal duties, with just 14% saying that they are given many opportunities.

The research by PwC says lack of support may explain why two-thirds (65%) of Scottish workers fear that automation is putting their jobs at risk.

This is ahead of 58% across the whole of the UK, a direct contrast to adults in India and China where seven in ten think automation presents more opportunities than risks.

Of the countries surveyed, UK workers – followed by their Australian counterparts – were found to be offered the fewest opportunities to upskill and, consequently, only half feel well equipped to use new technologies entering the workplace.

The markets who are best at adopting upskilling are also the markets who feel most well equipped in using new technologies entering their workplace: India (91%), South Africa (80%) and China (78%).

In Scotland just 52% said they felt equipped to use new technologies that were being rolled out in their workplace. However, most feel ready and willing to embrace these changes.

More than half (55%) said they were ready to learn new skills or completely re-train in order to improve future employability. Previous PwC research projected that there would be a net gain of 15,000 jobs by 2037 through automation. 

Claire Reid, PwC Scotland regional leader, said: “The disparity between the skills people have and the skills they will need in a digital future is a major challenge not just here in Scotland, but across the world.

“With research showing that more jobs will be created than displaced by technologies such as automation, it is vitally important that people learn new skills, and understand more about technology in order to adapt to this new world as seamlessly as possible.

“This will take a combined effort from government, business and academia. All organisations need to seize on this appetite to learn new skills.

“Organisations like Skills Development Scotland have done a huge amount of work, such as the £1m investment in software development and cyber security training in Scotland announced earlier this year. Collectively, we must all make the transition to a digital world as smooth as possible, and giving our workers the skills to adapt it a crucial part of this.”

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