Automatic for the people?

Response to Jeremy Corbyn's party conference speech

Author: Liam Booth-Smith   |  

Automatic for the people?

In response to today’s conference speech by leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn, in which he will call for the establishment of a National Education Service, Localis chief executive Liam Booth-Smith writes:

Jeremy Corbyn has hit upon the right diagnosis in automation, but has fluffed his policy response to the problem. The creation of a National Education Service is the wrong answer to the question posed by industrial and technology-driven change. Top-down solutions should not be automatic for the people.

Localis research has helped further identify those areas of the country most at risk from automation (see table below), and the difference between those prosperous local economies well-poised to make the leap and more disadvantaged regions, likely to experience industrial failure, is huge. In around half the areas of the country we don’t need a top-down, centrally-imposed skills service but require more local solutions attuned to business needs.  There is no time to lose, so why waste time and squander resources for reskilling local labour markets appropriately?

In our view, there is a crucial role for places, empowered by Westminster, to play in easing this transition and helping the current occupants of these jobs stay active and equipped in the labour market. Our forthcoming report will argue for a smoothing in the transition, not just in the automation of manual jobs but also in the labour shortfall some areas will face with the introduction of national-level immigration controls in the wake of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

The places most at risk of automation

Localis has produced a scorecard ranking 47 strategic authority areas of the country most at risk from the automation of jobs (see below) in which Brighton and Hove is best-placed to cope with change and Northamptonshire most at risk.

The ‘automation score’ is the amount of the area’s total employment taken up by the sectors identified by PwC as being most likely to see a large increase in automation by 2030. The lower the score, the lower the area’s exposure to automation risk. We take the number of local jobs in these sectors and – using the percentage of jobs within the sector identified as ‘high risk’ – produce an overall percentage of the area’s jobs which are at high risk of being automated.  We index these statistics with the average being 100 to create a simple score for an area’s risk exposure.

Area Automation Risk (100 = England Average)
1 Brighton and Hove 34
2 London 54
3 Berkshire 58
3 Surrey 58
5 Oxfordshire 59
6 East Sussex 60
7 West of England 77
8 Dorset 79
8 Tees Valley 79
10 Northumberland 81
11 Hampshire & Isle of Wight 83
12 Tyne and Wear 85
13 Cornwall 88
14 Shropshire 89
15 Liverpool City Region 90
16 Devon 91
17 Essex 92
18 County Durham 94
19 Cambridgeshire and Peterborough 95
19 Gloucestershire 95
21 Kent 97
22 Greater Manchester 98
22 Hertfordshire 98
22 Norfolk 98
25 North Yorkshire 101
25 Swindon and Wiltshire 101
27 Bedfordshire 102
27 Cheshire & Warrington 102
27 Lancashire 102
30 Sheffield City Region 103
31 Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes 104
31 Leeds City Region 104
33 Somerset 108
34 West Sussex 111
35 West Midlands 112
36 Cumbria 114
36 Nottinghamshire 114
38 Worcestershire 115
39 Herefordshire, County of 120
39 Suffolk 120
41 Warwickshire 127
42 Lincolnshire 129
43 Staffordshire 131
44 Hull City Region 132
45 Derbyshire 138
45 Leicestershire 138
47 Northamptonshire 147