The aim of the Commission on Workers and Technology has been to take a ‘worker’s eye view’ of technology change in the workplace and especially the automation of existing job tasks. The commission has looked 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.
Chaired by Yvette Cooper MP and hosted by the Changing Work Centre – a joint research initiative from Community and the Fabian Society – in December 2020 the commission published its final report.
The commission finds that the Covid-19 crisis is accelerating the take-up of job-replacing technologies, with a disproportionate impact on low-skilled workers. Without action millions of people now face greater insecurity, harder work and worse pay and conditions in the wake of the pandemic.
The commission has therefore called for a number of major reforms including:
- Work and Train Guarantees for the unemployed – building on the Kickstart Scheme, the Government should guarantee jobs and free training for everyone who remains unemployed
- Urgent action plans and added support for the retail and hospitality sectors including help for the workers who are most likely to need retraining and job support
- A major overhaul of adult training and skills to better help workers adapt, including free training above level 3; statutory training pay and time off to train; an expansion of the Union Learning Fund and apprenticeships
- A stronger voice for workers in the adoption of new technology in the workplace by extending collective bargaining and mandating worker consultation in large firms
- Action to increase the pay and status of caring jobs and other low-paid key worker roles that are less likely to be automated
- Bringing Government, employers, trades unions, small businesses and self-employed representatives together into new social partnership institutions to work together on the adoption of new technologies in the workplace
The Commission on Workers and Technology was established in August 2018 by Community and the Fabian Society. The commissioners were Hasan Bakhshi, Sue Ferns, Paul Nowak, Katie O’Donovan, Roy Rickhuss, Professor Margaret Stevens and its chair, Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP.
Learn more about who our commissioners are here.