15 million jobs at risk of automation: Kenneth Baker calls for education shake-up to respond to the Digital Revolution

Date: 6 May 2016
Embargo: 00:01, Monday 9 May 2016
Contact: Jayne Phenton, 0207 960 1546/0774 704 6750

Lord Kenneth Baker, Chair of the Edge Foundation, is calling for radical action to prepare young people for the next industrial revolution in a new report published today (9 May 2016).

The Digital Revolution was prompted by the Bank of England’s prediction that up to 15 million jobs are at risk of automation across the UK economy including professions such as law and accountancy.

Lord Baker’s eight-point plan includes providing 3D printers and design software for all primary schools, reintroducing young apprenticeships at 14, blending a core academic curriculum with a day a week of technical learning and regular work experience and letting young people take computer science or design and technology instead of a foreign language GCSE.

Lord Baker says:

The economy is changing at an unprecedented pace. Every day, jobs are being lost in professions we used to regard as careers for life. Artificial intelligence, robots, 3D printing and driverless vehicles will impact on sectors as varied as the legal profession, transport and construction

The UK’s future workforce will need technical expertise in areas such as design and computing, plus skills which robots cannot replace – flexibility, empathy, creativity and enterprise.

Right now, this thinking is almost entirely absent from the core curriculum in mainstream schools.

In the Digital Revolution, knowledge is as necessary as ever, but it is not enough. It has to be connected with the real world through practical applications ranging from engineering and IT to the performing, creative and culinary arts.

We should not go back to a 19th century diet of academic subjects for all. We need 21st century education for a 21st century economy.

Lord Baker has set out an eight-point education plan which responds to the digital revolution:

  1. Primary schools should bring in outside experts to teach coding
  2. All primaries should have 3D printers and design software
  3. Secondary schools should be able to teach Computer Science, Design and Technology or another technical/practical subject in place of a foreign language GCSE
  4. The Computer Science GCSE should be taken by at least half of all 16 year olds
  5. Young apprenticeships should be reintroduced at 14, blending a core academic curriculum with hands-on learning
  6. All students should learn how businesses work, with schools linked to local employers
  7. Schools should be encouraged to develop a technical stream from 14-18 for some students,
  8. covering enterprise, health, design and hands-on skills.
  9. Universities should provide part-time courses for apprentices to get Foundation and Honours degrees.

Press contact: For further information, quotes and interviews contact the Edge press team:
Jayne Phenton, jphenton@edge.co.uk  Tel: 0207 960 1546/0774 704 6750

The forecast that 15 million jobs are at risk was included in a speech by Andrew G Haldane, the Bank of England’s Chief Economist, on 12 November 2015:

About the Edge Foundation

The Edge Foundation is an independent education charity.  For over a decade it has been dedicated to raising the status of technical, practical and vocational learning.  All young people should have the opportunity to achieve their potential and the UK’s future workforce needs to be equipped with the skills to be successful in the modern, global economy.  Edge believes that “learning by doing” should be valued equally with academic learning and that all learners should experience a mix of both. There are many paths to success. www.edge.co.uk