Education Committee launches Fourth Industrial Revolution inquiry

The Education Committee has initiated an inquiry into the challenges and opportunities arising from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

As an article on the website notes, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is linked with the emergence of a host of new technologies including the internet of things (IoT), robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). Such technologies are predicted to have a profound effect on productivity as well as the labour market, with low- and medium-skilled jobs most at risk.

The inquiry will assess effective ways in which to prepare young people to take advantage of future opportunities, by evaluating how sustainable the current school curriculum is. It will examine the prospect of lifelong learning and the most effective measures to ‘help people climb the ladder of opportunity in the future.’

Advantages and challenges of increased automation

Launching the inquiry, Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, chair of committee, acknowledged how the rise in automation and connectivity will bring benefits to the economy by improving our low productivity rates. At the same time, it will present great challenges for the jobs market; it’s estimated that 28% of roles taken by 16 to 24 year-olds could be at risk of automation by 2030.

“We are already behind other countries when it comes to skills and if we don’t prepare for the changes brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we risk falling even further behind,” Robert Halfon said.

The MP continued by saying that if we are to truly benefit from these new technologies, we must act fast to ensure the education system and curriculum is ready. Current and future workforces must be prepared for new obstacles presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, while schools and colleges must focus on teaching the appropriate skills.

He concluded: “We know that those from disadvantaged backgrounds with low basic skills are at most risk from automation so we must ensure that the Fourth Industrial Revolution works for all by improving social justice and giving everyone the chance to climb the ladder of opportunity.”

With a deadline of Thursday 21 June, the Committee has called for written submissions on areas such as the interaction between the government’s industrial, skills and digital strategies; the suitability of the present curriculum to prepare young people for the Fourth Industrial Revolution; and the impact of the revolution on the delivery of teaching and learning in schools and colleges.

Is your school currently taking any proactive steps to help set students up for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?



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