Colleges key to seizing opportunities provided by automation


With many jobs of the future having not been created yet, Wales needs a flexible education system that continues to support lifelong learning and gives adults the chance to reskill in order to equip them to fill the skills gap that will emerge as a result of automation. Colleges are well placed to help Wales’ workforce adapt to this changing need of employment.

ColegauCymru / CollegesWales the post-compulsory education, training and skills charity welcomes the report on the inquiry into “Industry 4.0 – the future of Wales” and the recommendation that Welsh Government “should refocus and redevelop its support for lifelong learning, creating new and accessible ways for workers at risk of displacement by automation in the first waves to retrain and upskill.”

Funding to help address these challenges is vital. As part of an evidence session to the Committee, Dr Rachel Bowen, Director of Policy and Development at ColegauCymru noted the importance of investing in lifelong learning, saying that “the costs arising from not investing in education might be even greater”.

This is not a matter of simply “driving people towards university” but instead considering the skills employers and employees will need in the future and the Wales we want. Collaboration between Further Education and Higher Education is further developed than ever before as all those involved in post-compulsory education come together to seek solutions to the challenges ahead.

As the Welsh economy faces the “challenge of a lifetime” from automation and changes to future work, the National Assembly’s Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee report has sought to raise awareness of some key ideas and concepts by engaging in discussion about how Wales is preparing for the digital revolution.

The Committee concluded that the creation of opportunities for lifelong learning will be a vital factor in reducing the risk to those working in a role that is in danger of automation. ColegauCymru agrees whole-heartedly with this conclusion and looks forward to working with the Committee, the Welsh Government and other partners to develop a vision for post-compulsory education that is flexible and meets the needs of learners and employers for the decades ahead.

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