Amber Rudd will today call for the Tories to position themselves as ‘the party of the 21st Century worker’, as she sets out plans to help society cope with the challenge of workplace automation.
In a wide-ranging speech, the work and pensions secretary will warn that workers need to brace themselves for a future in which ‘multiple career changes’ become the norm.
She will say the Tories need to be on the side of workers as they face the ‘daunting’ challenges that the rapid advance of technology is bringing.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd arrives at 10 Downing Street in London yesterday
A Tory source said: ‘She wants to set out why the Conservative party must seize the chance to become the party of the 21st Century worker.’
Miss Rudd will unveil plans to recruit a new army of ‘work coaches’ to help people decide ‘when and how to switch jobs’ in order to achieve their ambitions.
Economists have warned that the so-called ‘rise of the robots’ could wipe out up to a third of jobs in the coming years.
But Miss Rudd will today insist that the history of automation shows it ‘can be positive’ if people are flexible.
Miss Rudd, a potential Tory leadership candidate, will also round on Labour for its ‘luddite’ approach to the workplace, warning it is impossible to hold back automation.
She will tell the Tories they must embrace the opportunities technology brings instead of ‘harking for the past like Labour’.
‘I understand that the certainty of the old industries, of guaranteed jobs for life, offer an attractive nostalgia,’ she will say.
Jobcentres will be asked to work more closely with local firms to encourage them to invest in training and career progression for their staff
‘But harking back to the Dark Satanic Mills of the past is not the solution. We can’t stop the clock, even if we wanted to.
‘No-one looks back now and thinks, I wish the Luddites had won.’ Miss Rudd will instead say there is a ‘clear role’ for the state in helping people ‘take advantage’ of the changes in employment as a result of the increased use of technology to replace workers.
‘Automation is driving the decline of banal and repetitive tasks,’ she will say.
‘So the jobs of the future are increasingly likely to be those that need human sensibilities: with personal relationships, qualitative judgment and creativity coming to the fore.
‘I don’t under-estimate the challenges ahead. Jobs are being made, remade and reshaped every day, as we find new ways to be useful to one another. But I remain incredibly optimistic about what we can achieve.’
Miss Rudd will set out plans for a new team of ‘work coaches’ to help people already in jobs map out their careers.
And Jobcentres will be asked to work more closely with local firms to encourage them to invest in training and career progression for their staff.