In recent years, the accelerating pace of digital automation and its impact on jobs, skills demand and wage inequality has been unprecedented. As the UK aims to strengthen its global position in these technologies, academic research into future trends has become ever more relevant.
From emerging technologies to functional specialisation in skills and Global Value Chains (GVCs), there are a range of rapid technological and socioeconomic shifts with which policymakers are continuing to get to grips. Alongside knowledge of the impact of past waves of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), robotisation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) on labour markets and industrial transformation, new research will be invaluable for the critical decisions around investment, education, and skills training to ensure a just and inclusive transition.
The H2020 PILLARS Project is at the forefront of current research into present and future shifts in jobs and skills demand in labour markets driven by changes in technology, trade, and industrial dynamics. Its ongoing findings will be key to policymakers and the wider public in grasping the changes needed for education and training systems to be fit for the workforces of the future.
This workshop, hosted by the University of Sussex and the Digital Catapult is a unique opportunity for key stakeholders in Government, NGOs and the private sector to engage the research team as they pitch the project’s results and discuss their key policy implications.
PILLARS has provided novel evidence and out-of-the-box policy recommendations for:
• Identifying a wide range of emerging digital automation technologies in real-world applications and sectors
• The exposure of the UK economy to these technologies and their adoption by UK firms
• Their impact on jobs and skills in the UK in relation to European labour markets
• Skills matching, education and on-the-job training for workers and employers
The aim of the event is to inform policymakers of the PILLARS Project’s results as well as to discuss policy recommendations relevant to the UK context.
The results of the event will feed into an extended policy brief offering key recommendations for the UK.
12:00-13:00 – Networking lunch
13:00–13:20 – Introduction to PILLARS
- Summary of the main results with Professor Maria Savona, Professor of Economics of Innovation at SPRU, University of Sussex
- Synergies between PILLARS’ results and the mission of Digital Catapult with Brian MacAulay, Principal Economist, Digital Catapult
13:20-13:40 – Industry and occupation exposure to emerging digital automation technologies with Dr Tommaso Ciarli, Senior Researcher in economics of innovation at UNU-MERIT, United Nations University, and SPRU, University of Sussex
Tommaso and team will present new dynamic measures of the exposure of industries and occupations to 40 rapidly emerging digital automation technologies. Distinguishing between industries that produce and those that use these technologies, they will show how employment in occupations with different levels of exposure have changed across EU regions. They will also discuss the implications for adoption of these technologies in the UK.
13:40-14:30 – Panel discussion
What does exposure and impact to emerging digital technologies mean for the UK businesses and sectoral structure?
- moderator: Brian MacAulay, Principal Economist, Digital Catapult
- Dr Robert Smith, Director of Technology – AI and Data Science, Digital Catapult
- Grant Fitzner, Chief Economist and Director Macroeconomic Statistics and Analysis, Office for National Statistics
- Matthew Houlihan, Senior Director, Government and Corporate Affairs, Cisco
14:30-14:50 – Coffee break
14:50-15:10 – The impact of emerging digital automation technologies on employment and skills in regions. What is next? Quantitative and qualitative evidence with Maria Savona, Professor of Economics of Innovation at SPRU, University of Sussex.
Maria and team will present the empirical results of the impact of Emerging digital automation technologies on occupations and tasks in regions
15:10-16:00 – Panel discussion
What is the future of work(ers) in the UK labour markets? How to harness AI opportunities and mitigate challenges?
- moderator: Maria Savona, Professor of Economics of Innovation at SPRU, University of Sussex
- Nicola Smith, Head of the Rights, International, Social and Economics, Trades Union Congress
- Tera Allas CBE, Director of Research and Economics, McKinsey & Company, PILLARS Advisory Board
- Professor Bart van Ark, Manchester Productivity Institute
- Professor Jacqueline O’Reilly, Co-Director, Digital Centre for the Future of Work (DIGIT), University of Sussex
16:00-16:20 – Coffee break
16:20-16:40 Digital Skills, all-levels education, apprenticeship schemes and on the job training with Yuchen Mo Guo, research consultant for the European Commission for PILLARS project and doctoral candidate at Ifo Institute (Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich).
16:40–17:30 Panel Discussion
How to harness education policies and training on-the-job for skills upgrading?
- moderator: Dr Vicki Williams, Senior Policy and Research Manager, Digital Catapult
- Dr Ashmita Randhawa, Head of Innovation at Digital Catapult North East Tees Valley at Sunderland Software City
- Debbie Johnson, Head of Innovation Talent and Skills, Innovate UK
- Professor Rebecca Riley, Director of Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence, King’s College London
17:30-17:40 – Closing remarks
17:40-18:40 – Networking drinks
Director of Technology AI and Data Science
Robert Smith oversees the AI and machine learning team, the flagship Machine Intelligence Garage programme – which supports high-growth potential startups working with AI & ML – and the prestigious AI Ethics Committee.
Chief Economist and Director, Macroeconomic Statistics and Analysis
Grant oversees the production and analysis of the ONS economic statistics, including prices, public sector finance, productivity, trade and the balance of payments. He also advises the National Statistician on economic matters. Grant is an experienced economist who has held a range of public and private sector roles, including economic adviser to the Australian Government and director of analysis and chief economist at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
Senior Director, Government and Corporate Affairs, Cisco
Matt joined Cisco as Head of Government and Corporate Affairs for the UK and Ireland in October 2015, a role which sees him develop and deliver Cisco’s government and wider corporate affairs strategies. Previously, he has worked for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in postings in Paris and the UK’s Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels. Matt has also worked as an advisor in the Cabinet of the UK’s European Commissioner, in the Prime Ministers’ European Secretariat and in various roles in the Home Office. Matt holds a BSc in Sociology and an MSc in European Politics and Policy, both from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a diploma in Economics from the Open University.
Prof. Bart Van Ark
Managing Director, The Productivity Institute
Bart van Ark is Managing Director of The Productivity Institute , a UK-wide organisation which aims to lay the foundations for an era of sustained and inclusive productivity growth by bringing together academic research, policy studies and business engagement. He is also a Professor of Productivity Studies at the Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS) at the University of Manchester . Bart is also a Senior Advisor of the Economy, Strategy and Finance (ESF) Center at The Conference Board , where he was Chief Economist from 2008 until 2020. He is also an honorary professor at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Groningen , and a member of the Research Review Group at the International Labour Organization .
Prof. Jacqueline O’Reilly
Co-Director, Digital Centre for the Future of Work (DIGIT), University of Sussex
Jaqueline is a Principal Investigator and Co-Director for the Digital Futures at Work Research Centre (2020-2024), together with Professor Mark Stuart. She joined the University of Sussex Business School in 2017 as Professor of Comparative Human Resource Management and is the UK lead on the EU Horizon 2020 EUROSHIP project on social protection in Europe (2020-23). After completing her doctorate at Nuffield College, University of Oxford on an Anglo-French comparison of employment practices in the banking sector, Jaqueline worked for ten years at the Social Science Research Centre Berlin (WZB), Germany. She has also held teaching and research posts at Sciences Politiques in Paris, and at London, Manchester and Brighton Universities in the UK. In 2000, Prof. O’Reilly was awarded a Jean Monnet Research Fellowship at the European University Institute in Florence and appointed Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) in 2019.
Tera Allas CBE
Director of Research and Economics, McKinsey & Company
Tera is Director of Research and Economics in McKinsey’s United Kingdom and Ireland office, working closely with the McKinsey Global Institute. She leads McKinsey’s research on the macroeconomic outlook, growth, and productivity, bringing together deep expertise and more than two decades of experience in strategy, corporate finance, economics, and public policy. Tera is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. She is a frequent author, panelist, and speaker on topics ranging from economic development and social impact to technology adoption and the future of work, as well as corporate performance. She serves as the chair of The Productivity Institute, a trustee of the Royal Economic Society and the United Kingdom’s Productivity Leadership Group, and as a governor of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. She is also a member of a number of expert advisory groups on economic policy, innovation and labour markets.
Head of the Rights, International, Social and Economics, Trades Union Congress
Nicola leads the TUC’s work on economics and employment rights, making the case for social and economic policies that benefit people at work. Prior to her current role she was Interim Chief Executive at social enterprise Timewise and before that led external relations as an Assistant Director for the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). She has recently returned to the TUC, having previously coordinated the work of their Commission on Vulnerable Employment (CoVE) and leading equality, strategy and employment rights teams. Nicola has also been a member of the Social Security Advisory Committee, scrutinising secondary social security legislation. Earlier in her career, Nicola held research and policy roles at the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion, Barnardo’s and the Children and Young People’s Unit (CYPU) at the old Department for Education and Skills (DfES).
Dr Ashmita Randhawa
Head of Innovation, Digital Catapult NETV at Sunderland Software City
Dr Ashmita Randhawa is an engineer turned social scientist. She is currently Head of Innovation at Digital Catapult North East Tees Valley, based at Sunderland Software City, and is also an Honorary Fellow at the SKOPE Research Centre, Department of Education, University of Oxford. She is passionate about supporting non-tech companies across various sectors with their adoption of data and digital technologies.
Prof. Rebecca Riley
Professor of Practice in Economics at King’s Business School, King’s College London
Rebecca Riley is Professor of Practice in Economics at King’s Business School, King’s College London. She is Director of the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCoE), a research centre established in 2017 to address emerging and future issues in measuring the economy, to build capacity and collaboration between the Office for National Statistics and academia, and to raise the profile of economic measurement issues. She also leads the measurement and methods research theme of the ESRC funded Productivity Institute, a UK-wide organisation which aims to lay the foundations for an era of sustained and inclusive productivity growth by bringing together academic research, policy studies and business engagement. Previously she worked as an Associate Research Director at the National Institute of Economic Research (NIESR), where she was Head of the Productivity, Innovation and Skills Research Group and before then led the NIESR UK economy forecast team.
Head of Innovation Talent and Skills, Innovate UK
Debbie’s work supports the innovation ecosystem as well as collective talent across UKRI. At Innovate UK Debbie is focused on two goals: supporting innovative businesses in accessing and developing talent to realise the UK’s innovation ambition and ensuring that the education and skills system is supported in responding to the changes created by our innovation to maximise its potential for our economy and society. Prior to joining Innovate UK in 2020, Debbie was involved in the design and implementation of collaboratively funded, business-led skills programmes in the construction sector.
Dr Tommaso Ciarli
Senior Researcher in economics of innovation at UNU-MERIT, United Nations University, and SPRU, University of Sussex
Tommaso Ciarli is Senior Researcher in economics of innovation at UNU-MERIT, United Nations University, and SPRU, University of Sussex. His research encompass economic growth, innovation, and technology-driven change, focusing on their effects on employment, productivity, and sustainable development. Areas in which he has led research projects include: computational models of economic development, structural change and inequality; estimating the impact of technology on labor; the relationship between science trajectories and societal demands; science evaluation; inclusive innovation; modelling sustainable transitions; and estimating the impact of violent conflict on economic activity. He has served as advisor for government and international organisations. He holds a PhD in Economics and Industrial Development from the University of Birmingham and the University of Ferrara.
Prof. Maria Savona
Professor of Economics of Innovation at SPRU, University of Sussex
Maria Savona is Professor of Applied Economics at LUISS University, Rome and Professor of Economics of Innovation at SPRU, Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, UK. She has been Honorary Research Fellow at the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, UK, and Associate Professor in Economics at the University of Lille 1, France. She is an economist (Laurea in Economics Cum Laude, Dpt of Economics, University of Rome La Sapienza) and holds a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from SPRU.
Principal Ecomonist, Digital Catapult
Brian is the Principal Economist at the Digital Catapult in London. He is responsible for implementing new approaches to capturing data on businesses, to measure progress, prepare market intelligence and for developing new modelling approaches of the diffusion of digital technologies. He works alongside academics and policy teams to better understand the measurement of impacts from digital technologies on economic growth. Throughout his career Brian has adopted an interdisciplinary approach to projects. Prior to joining Digital Catapult, Brian’s career highlights include working as National Economist for the Canal River Trust, Director of Innovation Index for Nesta and as the Senior Economist at the West Midlands Regional Observatory. He also spent 10 years lecturing at the University of North London, where he combined research in the application of evolutionary complex systems models to market regulatory issues.
Yuchen Mo Guo
Research Consultant, European Commission for PILLARS project
Yuchen Mo Guo is a doctoral candidate in economics at the University of Munich and at the ifo Institute, one of Germany’s leading think tanks. As part of the PILLARS project, he works as a research consultant for the European Commission, focusing on the future of work. He is currently working on issues of structural and digital transformation and is a scholarship recipient of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences for his doctoral research. Prior to his PhD, Mo gained expertise on technology and industrial policy in private equity, think tanks, and ministries.
Dr Vicki Williams
Senior Policy, Research and Engagement Manager, Digital Catapult
Dr Victoria (Vicki)Williams is a Senior Policy, Research and Engagement Manager at Digital Catapult who leads on creative industries and immersive, metaverse and web3 initiatives within the wider policy team. Since joining the Catapult Vicki has worked on a number of cross-technology initiatives, including working with the UK’s Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (DRCF) to support initiatives exploring the regulatory implications of advanced technologies. Prior to joining Digital Catapult, she worked across the higher education sector in strategy and impact roles, and completed her PhD at the University of Birmingham in 2021. She has authored a number of publications on immersive technologies and media skills and literacies more broadly.
More on artificial intelligence
The BridgeAI programme is an Innovate UK national programme seeking to stimulate the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine…
19 Jul 2023
Six years after the conception of our award-winning AI accelerator Machine Intelligence Garage the programme has come to a close.…
The Embassy of the Netherlands in the UK commissioned Digital Catapult to produce a report on key developments in the…
Founded in 2017, Loomi is a London based technology company focusing on creating human-focused artificial intelligence in order to take…