Professor Andrew J Scott: Work and learning over a longer life

By Future Talent Learning

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Professor Andrew Scott 00:25
Thank you Tim for the introduction, pleasure to be here and great to be able to agree quite a lot which is about working and learning over a longer life. I spend all my time talking about the opportunities I'm about to give, because only got 10 minutes to get through it. So it's gonna be quite a rush.


But let me tell you really what my work focuses on. So two big trends, if any can do around this longevity, living an average life, and then also AI and robotics and these two together are going to change what we're going to encounter work and we live on par with what we saw as transformation with industrial revolution.


And there's a lot of negativity about both of these dark side on Ageing society fear about robots, really wonderful opportunity if we reposition ourselves to seize an opportunity that longer, healthier, more productive, and it was us as individuals, governments, and civil society, but also tend to be a big corporate. So let me just begin with longevity here are some UK Government numbers, very similar numbers in those other high income countries, which is how long you can expect to live for depending upon where you're born.


And the ones at the end of the more recent generations. That's either assuming that the past trends continue themselves as we get the highest numbers, or they start to slow down.


But you're still saying that the majority of children born in rich countries today would have been to the 90s and beyond. So for the first time ever, in human history, humans have to prepare for that long lifespan. There's always been people living in their 60s and 70s. Now as the majority is making the life course, very different. And one way we got to think longer term, you got to take a bird's eye view of the future and not just think of ourselves now.


The next few periods, making the most of this number, like it's about giving our future self will make more friends with more options, more resources. Now, one of the things that most people think about when I tell them about longer life expectancies, is they start thinking about when they can afford to retire.


And if that's all you do, then you can have solved the problem of longevity by working if you're living to 180 I don't know how the younger people watching feel about that. That gives you what roughly is a 60 year career which doesn't sound great given the way we currently live. In the 20th century, we invented a three stage life, education, work retirement. We literally invented teenagers in the 20th century they didn't exist before. We just had children and adults. I mean when detention isn't the time and the work but in between babies that three stage life with a linear career path attached to a job, a sector, perhaps a few

And what most governments are doing in response to longevity is trying to make sure pensions are sustainable so they're pushing out when you can retire. They're lowering the pension get and making perform. They're just looking at your financial assets. But if you start thinking about the 60 year career, or 50 year career, it's pretty obvious that unless we do things differently, that is not going to be a good outcome, because it's worth thinking about your financial assets. How do I save for retirement? You got to also think about your productive assets. How can you be scalable? Have you have the skills and knowledge that you require to be productive rapido for your life, and as I said, we got lots of technology companies to disrupt.


So we can't just have education front loading the beginning. Anything that lifelong learning right below through. There's your vitality assets, your vitality assets or your health, your mental and physical health. But also your relationships with a 60 year career has nothing to do much for your health.


So having much more flexible that work on both the small units of time and big units of time, in order to get the chance to repair mental health to improve our physical health and above all to invest in our relationships because study after study tells us that fast money makes you happier. It doesn't make you happy. It's good relationships. As an economist, I never thought I'd say that.


And then of course, what I'm also going to stress in a moment is the importance of what are called transformational assets, ability to deal with too much. Because as we move away from a three stage life as you live a longer life and technology disruption more and more.


You're gonna have to get better at dealing with change transitions. Now as a consequence of longevity, combined with technology, the three stage life is already beginning to discipline, rather multi stage one we're at different stages. You may be focused on finance, you may be interested in a better work life balance at another stage. You may be looking doing something entrepreneurial, charitable, we have many more stages your life transitions in between your workforce and life as they're gonna be thinking about a life beyond what we can offer.


We're also going to see in terms of education a big change, we're going to see lifelong learning. So that's going to involve upskilling so you can take your skills to the next level.


Education always in a race with one another. There's also going to be rescale to learn different skills to shift into another era.


For as long as you've got lifelong learning. There's also what Chip Chronicles long life skills that come with a longer life. You're gonna get better at unlearning things to get rid of the old mindset.


Learning to do with transitions and forming networks, dealing with changes identity that comes with changing.


Technology is also obviously going to be very paramount. We're seeing rising levels of technology swelling and was already talking about this earlier.


Don't think of a job being replaced by technology into a job. They're made up of many different types. And also, they have a long take over some of those things.


It's already starting to take over tasks that are considered to be routine and back office processing things. But as technology gets stronger and stronger, we're seeing the areas of tasks that get done by automation expand between routine and analytical tasks, marketing, big data issues, financial we're also seeing a non article non routine tasks disappear things like driving, which means that bottom left quadrant is the key one non routine, analytical or carrying tasks.


Exactly the human skills that you need is talking about things that make the most of human empathy, human creativity, dealing with ambiguity. As machines, we get better at being machines, humans have to get better for being humans. So what's effect on jobs? Well, there's always going to be discipline. The biggest change will be in the tasks that make up your job to shift.
Now you do and it's gonna be really important that we make sure that we use technology not to automate tasks, but to augment the productivity of your career.


It's gonna be a longer one is gonna be more transitions. Good news is you're gonna get more leisure. I do think with your full day working we will also see a shift that much more flexible conditioners is talking about. The 20th century assumption was that leisure came after retirement in 21st century, retirement gets shifted back to longer, you're gonna start seeing more leisure for your workers and your workforce and decide whether to react to make a change or whether to just respond when it changes.


You're gonna see in your career, people cycling, sometimes they have a job. Other times they'll be commissioned to perform just a task, or when you've got to have a weapon, just a range of things. Sometimes it'd be a stable job other times contingent where the work is there, they turn up and do it with the gig economy.


Other times. Sometimes you could be on site, remember that was at a tangent. So individuals going to find it crucial to how to navigate and maintain a sense of identity over time. They're going to be much more responsible, huge agenda for governments for civil society.


There are some issues that corporates need to work on, enable multistage lives. Don't just focus on recruitment at the very early stages and let people come in multiple different times during the career path, support healthy ageing, both through the
nature of the work environment that is the products that we sell, focus on technology that didn't just automate and get rid of workers but actually enable them to focus on the things that they're best at and have the most time for champion lifelong learning.


And above all, ditch ageism, and focus on leveraging age diversity. Massive agenda for education, perhaps we can pick this up in the chat that focus on human skills driving promoted particularly adult than it was isn't something that's done very much in the corporate sector be brought to play here. We're gonna see an urgency of how new products and providers for that as well as
methodologies for that also learn differently.


But if we're doing lifelong learning is to be much more flexible. Much more navigable and stackable, something accumulates over time. And above all, will surely everyone in society benefits not just those who already have the high


So I took a little bit longer of my 100 year life in telling you about this, but if you are interested, there's a follow up and I'm really looking forward to getting involved in the conversation.

Tim Campbell MBE 08:02
Fantastic, Mr. Scott much appreciated for sharing your insight from your perspective on what this intergenerational conversation will be, like gives me great pleasure to welcome back our longtime friend of the conference, and also author of a number of books, whether you're driving or having breakfast with some other philosophers. He will tell you about that more later.


Welcome back. Robert Rowland Smith is gonna lead the Q&A session.

Robert Rowland Smith 08:22
Thanks very much, Tim. Thanks, Andrew.


I think we can agree there's a little very small subjects we can get through in just a couple of minutes. I mean, we can wrap up the session early probably nothing, nothing major consequences of any, any kind of talk.


Lots of clapping or clapping icons coming in the in the chat there and do please use the chat.


If you would like to make a comment or put in a question. I think, sort of my time is telling me 30 minutes or so we don't be too strict on timing, but 30 minutes or so to try and grapple with this huge huge subject. But Andrew I want to pick up on this robot thing may or may be from the point of view of the overall economy at your prominent very well known economist and another thing I struggled to get my head around as a as a lay person here is this idea.


Well, I'm actually going to do something I'm not going to do, which is to quote Margaret Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher, I think I'm right in saying said once you can't have an economy in which everybody's taking in everybody else's washing, right. So this in this sort of service economy where we're using all this AI, I mean, he was doing any work.

Professor Andrew Scott 09:20
Everyone who didn't work it just questioning what is valuable. But by the way, we just got that thing about robots. I think there's a lot at stake here. And you know, technology doesn't happen automatically. It's a little bit how we shape it. And I have to I'm a little bit concerned that the Silicon Valley View of technology which is based around the notion that humans are flawed, and therefore you're gonna replace humans, then that's a good thing.


We're actually I think we want to use technology to really make the most of human skills so we can get rid of the boring drudge stuff, and actually free humans up to do this stuff, which is interacting with one another and providing those quality services.


So going back to your point, absolutely. We've got robots coming through in manufacturing enormous already. And robots are here already. And particularly with the population has fallen. They've been really big adopters, and that's helping produce cars, even though there's fewer workers. So travellers as you get more productive, the price of things become less valuable, because that's what we're seeing too in the service sector where lots of reasonably well paid jobs in marketing and law and accounting and finance that revolve around this routine analytical tasks.


We're starting to get squeezed. But if we can get the routine stuff done, then that frees us to do the non routine stuff. The stuff that is really about actually helping people as I was good example, as a teacher, and as a professor.


My job is made up of many tasks, writing research giving talks a grading, teaching and going to endless meetings. And you know, at some point, I hope that AI is going to let them do the right thing. And it will do a better job than quicker, more reliable, more consistent.


But I don't think that having that taken away, will say that's how I feel professors. They just want me to do more of the other tasks. So after more papers, go to more meetings. So that's what I mean by that sort. of ability to stuff that actually becomes routine falls in value. Because you're shifting into things that are harder to produce. designs, always values are things that everyone wants that we find hard to produce, and robotics is going to change them.

Robert Rowland Smith 11:00
Yes, that's very interesting. I understand we have to kind of walk and chew gum in the sense of being able to do both technology and human skills.


I'm interested in in the role of employers in all of these people in training, Andrew's American version of training, what does an employer do in this world? Because there's not just like they can send people off on a course is I mean, Andrew, I was very struck by you saying, we're gonna have to reinvent ourselves multiple times over a lifetime. Sometimes doing a job, sometimes a few tasks, but it felt like we are then free agents and we've just got to draw down learning from where wherever we can get it.


Professor Andrew Scott 11:30
That's gonna work very well for some people, not for everyone. That's why governments are sort of psychiatric crucial role to play it just they did with industrial revolution. So we can't just leave it to markets and firms. But yeah, I think you're actually right. there's suddenly a big shift to the individual firms. But yeah, I think you're actually right. there's suddenly a big shift to the individual responsibility.


And the role of my employer and my career work colleagues is going to become less because I've always wondered, What can firms do and go back to do a little bit control similar to how we talked about how it could go well, but firms have got a big choice to make.


And if they choose to use technology in the wrong way to automate jobs, then they can make jokes. They're gonna make surveillance horrible, intrusive, they're gonna crush the human spirit. They may find that things are cheaper, they're not gonna be productive.


They're gonna automate not Augment, but that's gonna be disastrous for society as a whole. I get riots and revolutions. There's a question of how technology that is implemented. Then in terms of skills, I think firms do have a role to play, but not all of them will take them.


But like the one I sort of said, is as follows, which is a one to one the challenges is that as they find they haven't got the sort of lifelong workforce that they used to. They can say we actually have like, you know, how to have the bench strength to bring people in, they've got the skills they need, and it's really a central we have a pension system whereby basically, people lunch today, and maybe more when they retired was a recruitment retention. Think firms have actually started to produce 22 After five years from take a break.


You can take a sabbatical you go train, or after five years, you can go more flexible working and offer over as a recruitment or retention to keep the people to human capital unique. But of course not every firms want to do government to actually start to push and again get up to this revolution. Technology was first used to benefit firms as I didn't like it and they relied on labour, political versus society and economy. So you're going to find social pressures.

Robert Rowland Smith 13:12
We're very, very close to time, but I can't resist picking out a question from the chat. I wonder what the speaker's views are on the potential of automation to widen inequality? What does this mean for inclusion?

Professor Andrew Scott 13:22
He goes on to say we make sure that we augment work rather than automate it. I think we don't want to set the agenda in society. So this is what we want. And it was the potentials there as you said, to reduce inequality. If you do nothing about it, it's already increased inequality and increase it dramatically. So we absolutely have to wait. That's revolution. First exacerbating inequality.


In practice. What we have to do is produce basic prosperities everyone feels they've been heard, and they're getting a benefit out of it. It's one of those why I'm got some reservations about universal basic income because that doesn't give people good jobs. We're going to focus on is creating good jobs and a man should be able to do that. If we use it right over there very consciously to do

Robert Rowland Smith 13:56
very well. It's wonderful. I can't resist just reading out a nice rhetorical question in the chat. who fancies a sabbatical? There you go. Wonderful to listen to you Andrew as ever, fantastic contribution.

London Business School professor and co-author of The 100-year life, Andrew J Scott, shares why he is optimistic about the prospect of a longer working life and an increased capacity for knowledge and skills. Followed by a Q&A with facilitator Robert Rowland Smith. 

Key points

  • Longevity and technology are two trends changing the world around us. We are moving towards a multi-stage life, with career transitions spending 60 years. 

  • A longer career will drive investment in education and learning, such as lifelong learning, upskilling, reskilling, 'long-life' learning and unlearning. 

  • Humans need to get better at being humans as machines get better at being machines. Technology can't automate non-routine, non-analytical tasks - i.e. tasks that utilise our human skills.

  • Employers can actively respond to employees extending their careers by enabling multi-stage lives, supporting health through products and work, championing lifelong learning and ditching ageism to leverage age diversity. 

  • Rethinking education and learning delivery is imperative to focus human skills, drive and promote adult learning and achieve inclusivity. 

More about Andrew J Scott

Andrew J Scott is Professor of Economics, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research and a consulting scholar at Stanford University’s Center on Longevity.


His research focuses on longevity and an ageing society and has been widely publish in leading journals in economics and health.


Andrew's book, The 100-Year Life, has been published in 15 languages, is an Amazon bestseller and was runner up in both the FT/McKinsey and Japanese Business Book of the Year Awards.


Future Talent Conference 2021 

This talk was filmed at the virtual Future Talent Conference 2021 on Transforming Skills and Inclusion. 


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The conference explored questions including: 

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Our speakers included historian David Olusoga, Harvard Professor Francesca Gino and entrepreneur, CEO, writer and keynote speaker Margaret Heffernan. 


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