Scots concern over automation in the workplace


Almost half of Scots are concerned they might be replaced by robots in the workplace, according to new research.

The study conducted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP (PwC) found that 45% of Scottish workers are worried about the prospect of increasing automation.

However, they also found a huge appetite among the Scottish workforce to evolve in-step with automation and reskill.

More than one in seven Scots said they would be willing to take an online training course if their job was at risk to automation.

Photo by David Levêque on Unsplash

The research suggests there is a risk of societal inequality and unfairness being exacerbated by automation, unless the government and employers act together to address the ‘awareness’ and ‘aspiration’ gaps.

Now PwC are urging Government and businesses to prepare for reskilling workers at risk from automation.

The Making the UK fairer: How we work report found that workers believe the UK government and businesses are responsible for ensuring the current workforce is reskilled where required, as automation begins to play an increasing role in the likes of manufacturing and production of goods.

The majority of Scots believe the job they are doing now will be different in 10 years’ time and believed the Scottish government should take steps to accommodate this.

Stewart Wilson, head of government and public sector of PwC in Scotland, said: “It is reassuring to see that so many people working in Scotland today both recognise the role that automation is going to play, and that they are keen to develop new skills in response to this.

“However, what our research tells us is that Government and business must ensure they collaborate to create opportunities for everyone – and that work must begin now.

“Our research has previously projected that more jobs will be created as a consequence of automation in Scotland than displaced leading to a net benefit.

“But we must recognise that while automation can improve the lives of skilled workers it may make life more difficult for those less skilled and so the UK and Scottish Governments, along with local authorities and businesses need to work together to invest in upskilling initiatives which will benefit the whole workforce”.

Quentin Cole, PwC’s Government and Health Industries leader, added: “As the world of work evolves, we cannot protect jobs, but we can protect people, and businesses have a responsibility to provide their employees with the right skills and the right training.

“An empowered individual is more likely to be an engaged individual. That, in turn, will improve the perception of fairness across communities.”