SKOPE Annual Lecture: Education, Skills and Work in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

19th February 2020 : 17:00 - 18:30

Category: Lecture

Speaker: Phil Brown, Cardiff University School of Social Sciences

Location: Department of Education, Seminar Room A

Convener: Susan James Relly

Lecture Abstract


It is widely believed that digital disruption is transforming all aspects of economy and society. This disruption is seen to be driven by advances across a number of interdisciplinary fields and mutually reinforcing technologies such as, artificial intelligence, robotics, additive manufacturing, synthetic biology, and smart materials. Concerns about the impact of automation on employment, which has received a lot of media attention, has a longer history. This raises the question of what, if anything, is so significant or ‘revolutionary’ about today’s developments in digital innovation and what are their implications for the future of education, work and labour markets. There is a danger that debates about automation and the fourth industrial revolution exist in a ‘parallel universe’ to current economic realities, with a focus on the latest technological developments or robot victories over human intelligence. This talk will consider different interpretations of the fourth industrial revolution and the role of digital technologies in (re)shaping the future of education, skills and work. It will present a theory of ‘job scarcity’ rather than ‘labour scarcity’, which does not signal the end of work, but the need for a fundamental reassessment of current public policy.


About the speaker


Phillip Brown is a Distinguished Research Professor in the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University. He left school with little to show for it, before starting work as a craft apprentice at British Leyland’s car plant in Cowley, Oxford in the early 1970s. The realities of factory life at the time drove him to take-up evening classes, sparking a passion for the social sciences. He has since published many books and given presentations in over twenty countries. He has conducted extensive international research on globalisation, skills and the future of work, and is currently leading a six-country research programme examining digital transformation and the future of work, education and skills (in collaboration with the Research and Innovation Division, Institute of Adult Learning, Singapore). He recently chaired an Independent Review for the Welsh Government examining the impact of digital innovation for the economy and the future of work in Wales, UK. The final report was published September 2019. His latest book with Hugh Lauder and Sin Yi Cheung, The Death of Human Capital?: Its Failed Promise and How to Renew It in an Age of Disruption, will be published by Oxford University Press in May. 2020.


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