The government today has announced more detail on its Department for Science, Innovation and Technology with the publication of a 10-point UK Science and Technology Framework.
At IFOW we welcome the clear message that research, development and technology are crucial to drive future prosperity and wellbeing.
Putting eye-catching technologies like AI, quantum computing, bio-engineering and cyber at the forefront of this announcement will grab headlines; the real proof of this departmental reconfiguration will be in whether it leads to a 'good work' future, with higher-quality jobs right across the UK.
As our Amazonian Era report highlights, well designed and deployed algorithmic systems have vast potential to augment human skills, improve work safety and create new, good work. However, this potential is not yet being materialised, and too often these systems are being designed and deployed in ways that actually erode good work.
'Good’ automation is possible, but it will require a committed, human-centred approach, one that we hope is address in the 'talent and skills' section of the framework, where we see commitments to, by 2030, having 'created an agile and responsive skills system, which delivers the skills needed to support a world-class workforce in STEM sectors and drive economic growth', and 'given people the opportunity to train, retrain and upskill throughout their lives to respond to changing needs.'
Being a technological superpower is an admirable goal, but that power must be for the good of all people, across all of the UK, and it will be vital to the success of this framework that proper investment is made in talent and skills, with local regions given powers to develop their own 'future of work' strategies to fit local needs, as argued in our Good Work Time Series for 2023.
Through our work at IFOW we will continue to press for good work to be a cross-cutting policy objective, as the evidence we have is that this is the most effective way to improve social, economic and health challenges together.