In my view the Digital Revolution will destroy more jobs than it creates, unlike the Steam, Car and Computer Revolutions all of which created new jobs. The reasons are that it has so many manifestations that it will affect all industries and services – Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, robots in industry, the home and even the operating theatre, driverless cars, lorries and taxis, drones, clouds, mobile internet, 3D printers, nano technology and machine learning.

The Mercedes driverless lorry now undergoing testing in America threatens the livelihoods of the 3 million truck drivers and the 8 million providers of food bars and stopovers in the United States. A 3D printer in the Netherlands is building a metal footbridge over a canal – no hands, no concrete, no girders. Robots will increasingly replace many of the routine manufacturing processes of today. When you place an Amazon order the first time that a human hand is likely to have touched it is when the delivery man knocks on your door. But even his job is under threat by the invention of self-driving robots to deliver groceries within a three mile radius.

I am not alone in assessing the impact of these exciting and inevitable changes. The Bank of England has estimated that 15 million jobs are at risk from automation, and a report from Oxford in 2013 suggested that about 47% of total US employment is at risk over the next decade or two affecting routine and middle income jobs. Reports from McKinsey and Davos all talk of “the hollowing out of the Labour market” which means that highly qualified jobs are numerous and well-paid and low skilled jobs, e.g. in social care, are similarly numerous but low paid. The gap will be in the middle where skilled jobs used to be, particularly in manufacturing and general administration. Offices are already much smaller; your office is where your laptop is.

The nature of work will change. I expect that self-employment and part-time work will increase significantly. These workers will have a set of skills, experience and expert knowledge traded day-by-day and week-by-week working under contracts some even as short as an hour and in shifting teams. They will have a series of brief encounters with clients, suppliers, temporary colleagues and collaborators and that is likely to be their income stream. This is called the “gig economy” and it is already well-established in Britain.

The Chief Economist of The Bank of England envisages hundreds of thousands of micro businesses offering individually tailored products and services, personalised to the needs of customers, creating “a new artisan class” of self-employed people.

How should our education change to meet the demands of this Digital Revolution? When the American philosopher, author and motorbike mechanic, Matthew Crawford, delivered the Edge Annual Lecture in 2014, he said “when young people are making a tube frame chassis for a motor car suddenly trigonometry becomes very interesting – they see the point of all the other measurements and calculations”. In other words, knowledge is as necessary as ever, but it is not enough. Abstract knowledge and reasoning need to be connected to the real world through practical applications. A play assumes a certain meaning when read silently, more when it is read aloud, and more again when it is performed.

So young people should not leave school or college with just academic knowledge – to be work-ready they must have:

  • The ability to examine and solve problems
  • Experience of team working
  • The ability of make data-based decisions
  • Made and done things for real
  • Basic knowledge
  • Social skills
  • Confidence to talk and work with adults from outside school

So alongside the basic GCSE subjects of English, maths and science students should have technical experience. All primaries should be teaching coding and have 3D printers. At GCSE students should be able to choose between a computer language or design & technology, instead of a foreign language.

The Government is absolutely right in aiming to create many more apprenticeships. We should reintroduce the option of young apprenticeships at 14 where students can gain practical experience alongside their studies. The apprenticeship route should be just as important and valued as “3 A-Levels and a university”.

This will provide a great opportunity for FE Colleges. They could offer 14-18 year old courses as some are now doing with Career Colleges in catering & hospitality, construction, and digital technology. This should be a quite separate stream in a college and their post-18 activities should be focussed on providing students who can reach Levels 4, 5 and 6. That would lead FE colleges to become like the polytechnics of old.

By The Rt Hon Lord Baker of Dorking CH

Chair, Edge Foundation

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page