Why do we fret so much about robots taking jobs? Actually, they should provide us with a longer retirement, says the TUC.
We are living longer, and retirement age keeps going up. By 2028, the UK state retirement age is going up to 67. According to a report from the World Economic Forum, by the middle years of this century it will rise to 70, and may even increase to 80.
Meanwhile, others keep warning that technology will destroy jobs. Or, if it doesn’t destroy jobs and creates new ones, we may all need to change careers, and retrain several times during our working life. See: What jobs will you be applying for in the next decade?
The TUC has a different take. In a new report, ‘Shaping Our Digital Future,’ it argues that the government, business and trade unions must work together to mitigate disruption to working people’s lives, and to maximise opportunities for working people to benefit.
It says “With two-thirds of the 2030 workforce already in work today, efforts must focus on ensuring that existing workers are equipped to deal with the change.”
One of the reports' suggestions is that the income gains from higher productivity “could be used to stop planned increases in the state pension age.”
It also wants to see everyone have the right to a mid-life career review, and an increase in the investment in workplace training.
TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady said: “With the UK failing to make productivity gains in the last decade, we need to make the most of the economic opportunities that new technologies are offering. Robots and AI could let us produce more for less, boosting national prosperity. But we need a debate about who benefits from this wealth, and how workers get a fair share.”
But not everyone want to retire early. Maybe a better outcome would be for technology to be applied such that we could do jobs that offer more satisfaction.
Kate Smith, head of pensions, at Aegon has a view on this. She says that "there are two potentially significant benefits that could be realised. Firstly, greater use of technology should allow people to remain economically active, working in less stressful and physically demanding jobs for longer. In turn, this may give people more flexibility when they wish to retire.
"Secondly, technology has the potential to create greater workforce productivity which has been a continual sticking point in recent years. Greater productivity is typically associated with higher wages that should be shared across society and enable greater long-term saving by individuals.”
Then again, others say that to respond to the challenge of technology disrupting the labour market, we need a more entrepreneurial mind set, see Entrepreneurs have the solution to the threat of tech destroying jobs