Image: World Economic Forum/Benedikt von Loebell
Image: World Economic Forum/Benedikt von Loebell

Workers whose jobs are lost to automation and robotics will be retrained under a new government scheme.

The scheme will help workers to find a new career and gain new skills as increased automation results in their job becoming obsolete. It comes after think tank Oxford Economics warned that as many as 20 million jobs could be replaced by robots by 2030.

The scheme will initially be trialled in Liverpool before being rolled out across the country.

Announcing the scheme, Education Secretary Damian Hinds, said: “Technologies like AI and automation are transforming the way we live and work and bringing huge benefits to our economy.

“But it also means that jobs are evolving and some roles will soon become a thing of the past.

“The National Retraining Scheme will be pivotal in helping adults across the country, whose jobs are at risk of changing, to gain new skills and get on the path to a new, more rewarding career.

“This is a big and complex challenge, which is why we are starting small, learning as we go, and releasing each part of the scheme only when it’s ready to benefit its users.”

Oxford Economics’ report predicts that automation will lead to greater job losses in lower-skilled areas of the country than in high-skilled areas, leading to greater economic inequality.

The UK’s tech industry responded positively to the news. Speaking to the BBC, techUK’s head of policy, Vinous Ali, said: “It is right that the government is starting small to ensure lessons are learnt, and adaptations are made along the way, but the ambition to scale so that this becomes a truly national retraining scheme cannot be lost.

“Whilst the focus is on job displacement, the fact is no job is likely to remain untouched by the fourth Industrial Revolution, so we will all need to learn new skills.

“This means we need to be making significant investments in lifelong learning and helping people to navigate a pathway through this change.”