Technological change and the Scottish labour market

A joint research report between Scottish Government and SUC assessing the potential impact of automation on Scottish work places.


At their Biannual meeting in March 2017, the Scottish Government and STUC noted growing public anxiety about technological change. Press coverage of the anticipated pace of automation and associated job losses had left some workers fearing for their security of employment.

Therefore it was agreed to produce this paper to consider in some more detail how technological change might affect the Scottish labour market.

Section 1 considers the global debate and sets out competing visions of the future; from those who believe we stand on the cusp of widespread technological unemployment to those who believe the labour market will prove, as it has in the past, much more resilient.

Section 2 considers current labour market trends and challenges the assumption that demand for labour is likely to reduce in response to technological change.

Sections 3 summarises research undertaken by the STUC, including a survey of trade union branches, which looks at how technology is changing the workplace, as well as setting out some STUC views.

Section 4 sets out the positive approach adopted by the Scottish Government as expressed in its current policy framework and Programme for Government.

Section 5 identifies a number of areas for future consideration.


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