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Call for evidence

DWP's preparations for changes in the world of work

In a June 2019 white paper, the former Government characterised the “Fourth industrial revolution” as:

“New technology […] creating new industries, changing existing ones and transforming the way things are made.”

“Technological breakthroughs in areas from artificial intelligence to biotechnologies are now heralding a Fourth Industrial Revolution, with the power to reshape almost every sector in every country.“

New technologies may bring with them many opportunities. The previous Work and Pensions Committee looked at some issues related to advances in technology in its inquiry on Assistive Technology. That inquiry concluded that DWP needed to gain a better understanding, and make much greater use of new technologies in supporting disabled people, in particular, into work.

But these changes may have a more fundamental impact on the services that DWP needs to provide, especially to people who are unemployed or looking to substantially increase their hours. Some analysis suggests that the types of jobs available will change substantially. The number of jobs available may be reduced as more services are automated, with low and medium skilled jobs most at risk. As work changes, it may also be necessary to review the legal framework that underpins employment, to make sure that workers continue to have appropriate status and protections in law.

Some commentary has suggested that these changes may require the Government to consider more radical options to ensure that people have enough money to live on: for example, experimenting with a Universal Basic Income (UBI). UBI has also been put forward as a possible response to sudden shocks to the labour market, such as that likely to be caused by the coronavirus.

The Committee wants to take a broad look at the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for DWP. This inquiry will examine the likely extent of the challenges DWP may face, and how prepared it is to meet them.

Call for written submissions

The Committee would like to hear your views on the following questions. You do not have to answer all of the questions.

  1. What are the main challenges that DWP faces as a result of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”?
  2. What do we know about the possible likely impact on the labour market? For example:
    1. Are some sectors or types of jobs more likely to be affected than others?
    2. Are some groups of people more likely to be affected than others?
    3. What new types of jobs and opportunities could become available?
    4. Is it likely that there will be a reduction in the number of jobs available?
  3. Is there a need to consider new, long-term approaches to addressing change in the labour market: for example, introducing a Universal Basic Income (UBI)?
    1. Is UBI an appropriate short-term response to shocks in the labour market?
    2. What can the Government learn from the international evidence on UBI?
  4. Are DWP Work Coaches well equipped to advise people who are looking for work on new and emerging sectors and jobs?
    1. How could DWP improve the training and advice it offers to jobseekers?
  5. What support, advice and training should DWP offer to people who are looking to progress in work, or take up more hours?
  6. What is DWP’s role in ensuring that young people have the skills they need to get into and progress in work?
  7. How could DWP work more closely with employers to ensure that claimants have the skills they need to find work in the future labour market?
  8. As the workplace changes, will it be necessary to change the legal definition of employment to ensure that people continue to have the appropriate legal status and protections? Might any other legal changes be needed?
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