Blog and news
June 12, 2024

IFOW June 2024 Newsletter | The View from IFOW

The first inkling we had of the July election was during a meeting of the Pissarides Review research team. Auspicious perhaps, as we were discussing the implications of fantastic new research on technological transformation and job quality - something we found to be directly related to electoral outcomes, both in the 2019 election and before that the 2016 EU Referendum. This highlights the importance of putting Good Work at the heart of any future-focused policy agenda, as we have outlined in this election-focused blog piece. We will be publishing more on this as we respond to party manifestos.

Already, we have seen all parties keen to trumpet the power of technology to improve growth and productivity. New analyses from our Disruption Index - published today as an Interactive Report, with an associated web-based Dashboard – cut through the political promises to the real challenges of removing innovation bottlenecks and renewing our innovation ecosystem, as well as revealing new opportunities for how people’s prospects for work and wellbeing across the country could be turned around. We are delighted to be showcasing this work - with incredible research on a new skills clustering methodology that highlights the ranges of skills that are being demanded over time at Imperial College, as part of London Tech Week:

As we outline in our Deep Dive below, this work surfaces an urgent need for an industrial strategy that places creating good work through building up regional innovation ecosystems at its heart. 

An important month then as we look to the future direction of the country, and of policies around the future of work – this central thread that runs through our lives, our communities and our economy. We hope that you enjoy the reads and events we have curated and the election asks in our ‘deep dive’ below. We especially hope you enjoy reading the blog post reflecting on the Seoul AI Safety summit by Mia Leslie who we welcome from the Public Law Project to IFOW as our Researcher on workplace AI impacts.

Anna, Abby and the IFOW team 

Deep Dive - Election asks for a future-focused policy of Good Work

We have written to the leaders of all of the main parties outlining why we think that good work needs to be a cross-cutting policy objective, especially at this critical inflection point in this fast-moving industrial revolution. We have produced a more comprehensive piece on this in a post here but, focusing on the future of good work, this ties together:

  • robust measures to protect individual workers’ job quality, job security and wellbeing through this technological transformation, and a focus on human capabilities,
  • governance and regulation to promote responsible AI, giving firms clarity and confidence when developing and adopting new technologies, as well as research-led bases for managing ‘good’ automation,
  • policies aimed at thriving, regional innovation ecosystems shaping technological transformation to meet local challenges and augment local strengths.

Towards this, we have distilled our message to the leaders of all parties for this election to these five key asks:

  1. Embed Good Work as a cross-cutting policy objective, served by a new Growth and Future of Work Unit that guides the remit and targets of the Wealth Fund and British Business Bank. This also includes mandating impact assessments on Good Work for all new legislation passing through Parliament.
  2. Devolve power and funding to Combined Authorities to empower them to develop and implement 10-year Growth and Future of Work Strategies. It is vital that a proper regional innovation ecosystem is created that spreads the benefits of technological transformation beyond the ‘golden triangle’.
  3. Create a network of National Research and Innovation Laboratories to support this, focused on building regional, firm and human capabilities, human-machine interaction and knowledge sharing.
  4. Introduce a Responsible Innovation and AI Act to create a world-leading, principles-based framework for regulation, with a dedicated chapter on LLMs.
  5. An Employment Bill to match this that extends to new rights and responsibilities to information, consultation and the monitoring of ‘good work’ impacts through technological transformation to underpin and future-proof protection updated for the new world of work.

With the rapid changes we are seeing as AI and automation technologies transform labour markets and people’s experience of work, it is vital that a new government takes a bold and research-led approach to restoring growth and sharing the benefits of it most widely. Whatever the outcome on the 5th July, we are ready to offer our expertise.

Interesting reads/listens

Disruption Index Interactive Report: Renewing the UK's Innovation Ecosystem

Our latest report from the Pissarides Review into the Future of Work and Wellbeing - funded by the Nuffield Foundation - gets to the heart of the urgent need to renew our regional innovation ecosystem. Aggregating data from across a huge number of dimensions, the DI surfaces the bottlenecks in R&D, skills and funding - and proposes Regional Innovation Centres to 'level up' technological transformation across the country. This is being launched in parallel with a web-based Dashboard where policymakers and businesses can explore regional data across the many dimensions of the Disruption Index.

Bridging the Innovation Gap: The role of R&D and innovation institutes in regional growth


The latest report from The Productivity Institute highlights that the UK, despite its strong science base, faces stagnant productivity growth and regional economic disparities. It attributes this to a focus on creating new knowledge over diffusing existing technologies and building local capacities. The report suggests that intermediate RD&I institutes, similar to models in the USA, Japan, and Germany, could bridge this gap by enhancing regional innovation capabilities. The UK's Catapult Centres could expand their role to address these needs, fostering local industrial growth and reducing regional inequalities.

This resonates strongly with new analysis from our Disruption Index coming this week, and with our key General Election asks to the leaders of all the main parties, set out above.

Reimagining the role of the AI Safety Institute

Our friends at the Ada Lovelace Institute have published a piece considering what role the UK’s AI Safety Institute should play in a wider governance framework. They argue that “its current approach is so far failing to provide appropriate assurance that AI systems are safe. Fixing this will require a renewed focus on context-specific evaluations of AI systems in collaboration with sectoral regulators and new statutory powers to replace the existing voluntary approach.”

Reflections on the Seoul AI Summit: A Prelude to Paris

We are very excited that Mia Leslie has just joined us from the Public Law Project and will be leading on AI’s impacts on work. She attended a day-long briefing in London on the AI Summit in Seoul, and has written an excellent blog piece summarising where things have come since the Bletchley Summit last November, and what we are doing to build for the next key event in Paris in February.

Living with the Algorithm - Servant or Master? AI Governance and Policy for the Future (Unicorn, 2024)

Lord Tim Clement-Jones has been leading efforts in the House of Lords to bring in responsible AI regulation. He has been an expert on algorithmic technologies and their impacts for many years, and has recently supported amendments to the (now dead) DPDI Bill that IFOW tabled. In this new book, he “tackles the question of why AI is a distinct challenge from other technologies and how we should seek to implement innovation-friendly approaches to regulation.”  

Devolve! Invest! Engage!

A passionate and inspiring episode of BBC Radio 4's Start the Week this week, which we really couldn't have written better ourselves. Including the wonderful story of how - in 1903 - steel workers and a steel firm joined forces to create Sheffield University. Place-based, skills-focused investment in regional innovation. Enjoy.

AI Enhances Career Longevity for Mechanics in Cambridgeshire

A specialist workshop in Kimbolton is using AI to extend the careers of experienced mechanics. This innovative approach – using specially designed exoskeletons - aims to address the physical demands and skill retention challenges faced by older professionals in the field.  

UK Workers Embrace Social Media & AI to Hone Office Skills  

Research published by KPMG reveals that the AI boom is driving a sharp increase in workers seeking generative AI skills, with 61% of employees surveyed wanting training in how to use the technology. The lack of formal training available is revealed by the fact that employees are turning to social media platforms and AI tools for self-improvement.  

Speaking to HR Magazine, Chief Learning Officer at 360 Learning, David James said, “AI skills are increasingly becoming integral to the success of businesses. Ensuring employees understand how to use these tools is critical.”

Algorithmic Institutionalism: How Algorithms are Shaping Society and Governance

The book "Algorithmic Institutionalism: The Changing Rules of Social and Political Life" by Ricardo F. Mendonça, Fernando Filgueiras, and Virgílio Almeida examines how algorithms are reshaping social and political life by acting as new global institutions.  

The authors argue that these algorithms, which influence behaviours and public policies, often lack democratic accountability, exacerbating inequalities and undermining traditional governance. They stress the need to democratise algorithmic processes to ensure they serve public interest, highlighting the intersection of technology, democracy, and social justice.


London Tech Week – AI, Future of Security & Data, Green Innovation, Healthier Futures (9 AM, 10 -12 June,Kensington's Olympia venue)

We are delighted that our co-founder and co-director, Anna Thomas, has been invited to speak at London Tech Week – one of the most important events in the tech policy calendar. She will be contributing to a panel at 3.15pm on Weds 12th June titled The Power of Communication - Leading Successful Teams

Register here.

LTW Fringe Event: Technological Transformation and Regional Inequalities (12:30 – 1:45 PM, 12 June, Imperial College's I-Hub)

Join us for lunch at Imperial College's i-Hub, White City campus, near Olympia. An expert panel – including Professor Sir Christopher Pissarides, and Phil Smith – Head of the Digital Skills Council – will be discussing new analyses from our 'Disruption Index' as well as a new report on skills clustering. With both main parties highlighting AI and automation's potential for improving growth and productivity, the Disruption Index reveals the challenges – and opportunities – behind those political promises.

Tickets are very limited, and include lunch. Register here.  

Sustaining Quality Work in Age of AI: What Do the UK Creative Industries Need from a New Government? (19 June, 4:00 – 5:30 PM, Somerset House)

As the election campaign hots up, join us on the 19th of June at Somerset House – ‘the home of cultural innovators’ – for a focused discussion on what should be done to safeguard creative industries, and what we can learn about sustaining job quality in an age of AI. Co-hosted by IFOW and UK Music, this will be a chance for leading figures from the creative sector to deliver key election asks around sustaining job quality in an age of AI, and for politicians with responsibilities for creative industries to listen and respond.

Register here.

The Next Frontiers 2024 (13 June 2024, 8:30 - 17:00, King’s Place, London)  

Hosted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, this year’s conference theme centres on rethinking wealth's role in creating equitable and sustainable futures, highlighting models that support regenerative and reparative principles.  

This event echoes one of the tenets in our Good Work Monitor by highlighting approaches that promote fair work, equitable opportunities, and sustainable practices, ensuring that both people and the planet can thrive in a just future.  

Register here.  

London EdTech Week: Now & Next of Education Technology (17 – 21 June, 9:00 - 5:00 PM, London’s Tobacco Dock)

London EdTech Week aims to foster innovation and collaboration within the global EdTech community, engaging educators, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. Key events will include the EdTech Executive Summit, a Global Startup Mini Summit, workshops on neuroscience and AI in education, and discussions on international education trends and workforce development. Our work has highlighted the importance of skills in this technological transformation, and EdTech has a role to play in this.

Register for free here.  

Is Britain Working?: The labour market context to the general election (25th June, 9:30 AM, Queen Anne’s Gate, London)

Hosted by the Resolution Foundation, this election-focused event will explore changes in the UK's labour market since 2010 and how the upcoming general election will shape its future.

Register to attend for free here.

Thank you for your time and interest.

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Anna Thomas MBE


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