We 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.
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.
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.
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.