In Brief

Workplace robots can bring down pension age, says TUC

Economic gains from technological revolution could help tackle the challenge of an ageing population

Economic gains resulting from the increased use of robots in the workplace should be used to reverse plans to raise the state pension age, the TUC says.

The recommendation accompanies a report by the trade union body exploring ways in which artificial intelligence, digitisation and robotics could be used to help tackle the challenge of an ageing population.

Acknowledging the "profound and rapid" technological change currently underway in the workplace, the TUC argues that "rather than viewing robots and artificial intelligence as a threat, the productivity and economic gains that new technology bring could be used to lengthen retirement for workers", the Financial Times reports.

In July, the government decided to bring forward a rise in the state pension age to 68 for Britons born between 1970 and 1978. This is expected to affect about seven million people in their late 30s and early 40s.

In response, TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady, said robots and AI "could let us produce more for less, boosting national prosperity" but only if we have a serious debate "about who benefits from this wealth and how workers get a fair share".

She cited analysis from PricewaterhouseCooper suggesting British GDP could receive a ten per cent boost from productivity gains linked to artificial intelligence by 2030. This would "dwarf" the 0.3 per cent saving in GDP estimated by the Office for Budget Responsibility brought about by increasing the state pension age.

The TUC also said workers should be given the right to a midlife career review and firms should invest more in workplace training. "At present, the UK invests just half of the EU average," reports The Guardian.

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