Last updated: 07.08.13

Technology 'a powerful tool', but also 'a cause for concern'

Technology is transforming workplaces all over the UK, but there are still fears that it is putting people out of jobs.

This is according to Ian Stewart, chief economist for Deloitte, who claimed in a post for City AM that the innovation technology generates is helping to find people work, not hold them back.

He said that at present, goods and services are being produced at lower costs and with less labour, the result of which is that the public now consume more.

"All this extra demand provides jobs. So while innovation destroys, it also creates," Mr Stewart explained.

Indeed, employment in Britain is at record levels and far higher than the days before smartphones, laptops and tablets rose to dominance.

Where Mr Stewart said he agreed with individuals who are sceptical about the impact of technology on business is that the people who do lose their jobs are not usually the ones who get new ones. Rather, it is skills, experience, education and attitude that count the most when filling a position.

"Fears about the effects of technology persist. Yet the direst predictions of the pessimists have so far been incorrect. Technology has not created mass unemployment, nor reduced the overall number of jobs," the expert remarked.

It does mean that the next generation of workers may arrive at a company with more digital skills than their older colleagues, but by organising online training for mature workers, a business could be able to close this skills gap and maintain equality.

Technology is being used in the workplace in lots of other positive ways, such as educating staff about how to improve safety and first aid training, while managers can benefit from e-learning software that cuts their administrative costs and helps them with tasks such as auditing.

Education secretary Michael Gove recently claimed every sector of British industry will soon depend on technology, stating this means there is an air of uncertainty regarding the skills young people will need to succeed in future.