Introduction

    Welcome to the Wales Wide Web

    October 25th, 2007 by Dirk Stieglitz

    Wales Wide Web is Graham Attwell’s main blog. Graham Attwell is Director of the Wales based research organisation, Pontydysgu. The blog covers issues like open-source, open-content, open-standards, e-learning and Werder Bremen football team.

    You can reach Graham by email at graham10 [at] mac [dot] com

    Wales Wide Web

    Pathways to Future Jobs

    June 1st, 2020 by Graham Attwell
    people, special, different

    katielwhite91 (CC0), Pixabay

    Even before the COVIP 19 crisis and the consequent looming economic recession labour market researchers and employment experts were concerned at the prospects for the future of work due to automation and Artificial Intelligence.

    The jury is still out concerning the overall effect of automation and AI on employment numbers. Some commentators have warned of drastic cuts in jobs, more optimistic projections have speculated that although individual occupations may suffer, the end effect may even be an increase in employment as new occupations and tasks emerge.

    There is however general agreement on two things. The first is that there will be disruption to may occupations, in some cases leasing to a drastic reduction in the numbers employed and that secondly the tasks involved in different occupations will change.

    In such a situation it is necessary to provide pathways for people from jobs at risk due to automation and AI to new and hopefully secure employment. In the UK NESTA are running the CareerTech Challenge programme, aimed at using technology to support the English Government’s National Retraining Scheme. In Canada, the Brookfield Institute has produced a research report ‘Lost and Found, Pathways from Disruption to Employment‘, proposing a framework for identifying and realizing opportunities in areas of growing employment, which, they say “could help guide the design of policies and programs aimed at supporting mid-career transitions.”

    The framework is based on using Labour Market Information. But, as the authors point out, “For people experiencing job loss, the exact pathways from shrinking jobs to growing opportunities are not always readily apparent, even with access to labour market information (LMI).”

    The methodology is based on the identification of origin occupations and destination occupations. Origin occupations are jobs which are already showing signs of employment. Decline regardless of the source of th disruption. Destination jobs are future orientated jobs into which individuals form an origin occupation can be reasonably expected to transition. They are growing, competitive and relatively resilient to shocks.

    Both origin and destination occupations are identified by an analysis of employment data.

    They are matched by analysing the underlying skills, abilities, knowledge, and work activities they require. This is based on data from the O*Net program. Basically, the researchers were looking for a high 80 or 90 per cent match. They also were looking for destination occupations which would include an increase in pay – or at least no decrease.

    But even then, some qualitative analysis is needed. For instance, even with a strong skills match, a destination occupation might require certification which would require a lengthy or expensive training programme. Thus, it is not enough to rely on the numbers alone. Yet od such pathways can be identified then it could be possible to provide bespoke training programmes to support people in moving between occupations.

    The report emphasises that skills are not the only issue and discusses other factors that affect a worker’s journey, thereby, they say “grounding the model in practical realities. We demonstrate that exploring job pathways must go beyond skills requirements to reflect the realities of how people make career transitions.”

    These could include personal confidence or willingness or ability to move for a new job. They also include the willingness of employers to look beyond formal certificates as the basis for taking on new staff.

    The report emphasises the importance of local labour market information. That automation and AI are impacting very differently in different cities and regions is also shown in research from both Nesta and the Centre for Cities in the UK. Put quite simply in some cities there are many jobs likely to be hard hit by automation and AI, in other cities far less. Of course, such analysis is going to be complicated by COVID 19. Cities, such as Derby in the UK, have a high percentage of jobs in the aerospace industry and these previously seemed relatively secure: this is now not so.

    In this respect there is a problem with freely available Labour Market Information. The Brookfield Institute researchers were forced to base their work on the Canadian 2006 and 2016 censuses which as they admit was not ideal. Tn the UK data on occupations and employment from the Office of National Statistics is not available at a city level and it is very difficult to match up qualifications to employment. If similar work is to be undertaken in the UK, there will be a need for more disaggregated local Labour Market Information, some of it which may already be being collected through city governments and Local Economic Partnerships.

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    Creatively working with AI

    May 14th, 2020 by Graham Attwell

    A major theme in the research literature about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the future of work is the potential of people working alongside or with AIs. However, it is quite hard to visualize what that might mean, outside the sphere of maintenance technicians in automated factories.

    This weeks edition of the Raconteur online magazine provides six examples of people working with AI drawn from very different occupations and contexts:

     

     

     

    • Furniture designer
    • Journalist
    • Filmmaker
    • Musician
    • Fragrance developer

    The article says: “Artificial intelligence is shaking up the world of work, automating out routine tasks and freeing workers to concentrate on the more creative elements of their job. But it can often be surprisingly good at mimicking human creativity, and with varying levels of human involvement is now making inroads into new areas of work.”

     

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    COVID-19, AI and automation

    May 13th, 2020 by Graham Attwell

    jarmoluk (CC0), Pixabay

    It is worth thinking about how the COVID-19 pandemic will effect the future development and implementation of AI and automation. Of course such speculation is problematic – there are many factors coming into play – not least the length of the crisis and the impact of the resulting economic downturn on economies and on business.

    A paper by and published by the World Economic Forum suggests “COVID-19 could spur automation and reverse globalization – to some extent.

    Providing as an example current supply shortages of critical medical equipment, for example Personal Protection Equipment in the UK, they say: “The current COVID-19 pandemic has fully exposed the vulnerabilities of global value chains (GVCs) which are characterised by high interdependencies between global lead firms and suppliers located across several continents.”

    They go on to say that: “Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, in an effort to mitigate supply chain risks, increase flexibility, and improve product standards, global lead firms have relied on Industry 4.0 technologies, such as robots, 3D printing, and smart factories, and occasionally reshored parts of their production.”

    and   think the current crisis further spur automation and reshoring in Global Value Chains reducing reliance on “low-skill, low-cost labour in manufacturing” and production moving to a more regional basis, closer to final consumer markets. However they think it   unlikely that entire supply chains will be automated in the short term due to a shortage of skilled workers who are able to operate the machines and the cost of automated production for products with low value-to-weight ratios.

    Furthermore growing demand for mid-range consumer goods in emerging markets and the availability of cheap labour in these markets could actually slow down the trend towards automation and reshoring.

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    CareerChat Bot

    May 7th, 2020 by Graham Attwell
    chatbot, bot, assistant

    mohamed_hassan (CC0), Pixabay

    Pontydysgu is very happy to be part of a consortium, led by DMH Associates, selected as a finalist for the CareerTech Challenge Prize!

    The project is called CareerChat and the ‘pitch’ video above expalisn the ideas behind the project. CareerChat is a chatbot providing a personalised, guided career journey experience for working adults aged 24 to 65 in low skilled jobs in three major cities: Bristol, Derby and Newcastle. It offers informed, friendly and flexible high-quality, local contextual and national labour market information including specific course/training opportunities, and job vacancies to support adults within ‘at risk’ sectors and occupations

    CareerChat incorporates advanced AI technologies, database applications and Natural Language Processing and can be accessed on computers, mobile phones and devices. It allows users to reflect, explore, find out and identify pathways and access to new training and work opportunities.

    Nesta is delivering the CareerTech Challenge in partnership with the Department for Education as part of their National Retraining Scheme

    • Nesta research suggests that more than six million people in the UK are currently employed in occupations that are likely to radically change or entirely disappear by 2030 due to automation, population aging, urbanisation and the rise of the green economy.
    • In the nearer-term, the coronavirus crisis has intensified the importance of this problem. Recent warnings suggest that a prolonged lockdown could result in 6.5 million people losing their jobs. [1] Of these workers, nearly 80% do not have a university degree. [2]
    • The solutions being funded through the CareerTech Challenge are designed to support people who will be hit the hardest by an insecure job market over the coming years. This includes those without a degree, and working in sectors such as retail, manufacturing, construction and transport.

    You can find out more information about the programme here: https://www.nesta.org.uk/project/careertech-challenge/ and email Graham Attwell directly if you would like to know more about the CareerChat project

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    Arts, Humanities and Social Science graduates are in demand

    May 7th, 2020 by Graham Attwell
    woman, library, books

    Comfreak (CC0), Pixabay

    As reported in FE News, a new report based on analysis by London Economic, ‘Qualified for the Future: Quantifying demand for arts, humanities and social science skills’ provides quantitative evidence for the employment benefits of studying the arts, humanities and social sciences at university.

    The report finds that:  

    • Graduates of arts, humanities and social sciences are just as resilient to economic upheaval as other graduates and are just as likely to remain employed as STEM graduates during downturns
    • Looking at the total UK workforce, arts, humanities and social science graduates are just as likely to be employed as their STEM counterparts; the 2017 Labour Force Survey shows that 88% of HSS graduates and 89% of STEM graduates were employed in that year
    • Of the ten fastest growing sectors in the UK economy, eight employ more graduates from the arts, humanities and social science than other disciplines. They include the well-paid information and communication industry and finance sector
    • HSS graduates are the backbone of the economy, with the majority working in the UK services sector. The service sector accounts for 81% of the UK’s total economic output and is second only to the US in export value globally
    • HSS graduates will be essential to fill in the workforce gaps of the future, particularly those studying fine arts, history and archaeology, philosophy and theology, geography, sociology and anthropology
    • While the health sector is the dominant destination for recent STEM graduates, HSS graduates choose to work in a wide range of sectors across the economy, including financial services, education, social work, the media and creative industries.

    I have long been dubious of what I see as an overemphasis on STEM subjects from an employment perspective and this report would seem to support such scepticism. And I can well understand the advantages HSS graduates may have in their flexibility and employment resilience.  However, one worry lies in that focus on jobs in the services sector. Obviously as a sector accounting for 81% of the UK’s total economic output, the sector is very broad and will include a spread of occupations. Many, I fear will be in lower paid and precarious employment.

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    Digital innovations webinar

    May 5th, 2020 by Graham Attwell
    mark, marker, hand

    geralt (CC0), Pixabay

    Pontydysgu has recently been working with Deirdre Hughes from DH Associates in developing a serie sof Webinars around the use of technology, including AI, in career development

    . The next webinar in the series – entitled Digital Innovations is on 6th May from 1630 – 1730 CEST (an hour earlier if you are in the UK time zone) and will include presentations from Rhys Herriott, NESTA CareerTech Challenge and Gareth Phillips, Head of Communications, Careers Wales.

    This webinar explores digitial innovations in a career development context.

    Nesta research suggests that more than six million people in the UK are currently employed in occupations that are likely to radically change or entirely disappear by 2030 due to Artificial Intelligence, automation, population aging, urbanisation and the rise of the green economy. In the nearer-term, the coronavirus crisis has intensified the importance of this problem. Recent warnings suggest that a prolonged lockdown could result in 6.5 million people losing their jobs. Of these workers, nearly 80% do not have a university degree.

    Nesta is delivering the CareerTech Challenge in the UK, in partnership with the Department for Education, as part of their National Retraining Scheme. Solutions being funded through the CareerTech Challenge are designed to support people who will be hit the hardest by an insecure job market over the coming years.

    Careers Wales is on a digital transformation journey from its award winning use of video, exciting new gaming developments and pioneering website and resources. In recent times the company has adapted its service delivery model in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Key lessons are being learned in relation to the role of digital as they look ahead and plan for the new normal.

    Note: DMH Associates and Pontydysgu are supported by DfE and Nesta through the CareerTech Challenge. You can find out more information about the programme here: https://www.nesta.org.uk/project/careertech-challenge/.

    You can sign up for the webinar here.

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