The UK is not ready for data driven jobs

“The bottom line is that skills matter!  How can we sustain our enthusiasm for life if we find ourselves in maturity prepared for a job that is no longer relevant, with the skills for a play which is no longer on stage? The only way to address this is by helping people to develop and nurture the relevant and pertinent skills, and to transform them and invest in new skills as the situation demands” – Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General

Yesterday I wrote about how the industrial Internet will create data smart future rules. The high degree of servitization occurring in the manufacturing and industrial sector is fuelling innovation and will in the future create brand-new roles such as digital mechanical engineers in the new workplace where machine human collaboration is the norm. Om Malik writes in a Gigaom article mentions the doubts and fears about employment every time there is a technological shift. Companies need to retrain staff in this new digital and data driven reality.

These revelations should then provide concern for the future of the UK job market. According to research by the organization for economic co-operation and development (OECD), England is an advanced economy in which the younger generation leaves school less than literate with abysmally poor numeracy skills. England ranks among the top three countries surveyed for literacy skills among the 55-65 year-olds. But the country is in the bottom three when it comes to such skills among 16-25 year-olds.


When it comes to new numeracy, the older generation far outshines those now leaving education. The Survey also reveals the extent of the “digital divide”, with millions failing to master even simple computer skills, such as using a computer mouse. This ranges from nearly one in four adults in Italy, Korea, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Spain to one in fourteen adults in the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

The survey shows that high quality initial education is an important predictor for success in adult life. But countries must combine this with flexible, skills-oriented learning opportunities throughout life, in particular for working-age adults. The report was critical of the US and UK current situation. It noted that improvements between younger and older generations are barely apparent and that young people entering into a much more demanding labor market are not that many that are prepared than those who are retiring. So based on this revelation it seems that the industrial Internet and its future workforce may struggle when it comes to finding competent employees.

There is still a chance for the UK to get its act together, as the report notes the UK is currently positioned to make the largest gains from any rise in proficiency in literacy. The UK will have to take advantage of this if it is to become the new Silicon Valley and if it can match adequate candidates with the data driven factories of the future. However the OECD warns that the stock of skills available to both the UK and the US is bound to decline over the next decades unless serious action is taken to improve skill proficiency among young people, achieved through better teaching of literacy and numeracy in schools and also providing better opportunities for working adults.