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It’s those ‘safe’ jobs that will disappear, a leading local recruiter warns

PUBLISHED: 06:30 20 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:04 22 October 2018

Dayle Bayliss and Michelle Pollard. Picture: Keith Mindham

Dayle Bayliss and Michelle Pollard. Picture: Keith Mindham


What do bank clerks, supermarket check out staff and accountants all have in common? They’re all job roles that are gradually diminishing, thanks to advances in automation and AI technology.

What do bank clerks, supermarket check out staff and accountants all have in common?

The answer is that they are all job roles that are gradually diminishing, thanks to advances in automation and AI technology.

Michelle Pollard, the managing director of Ipswich-based recruitment company Spider Fixed Fee Web Recruitment, a Future50 member, has been keeping a watchful eye on the trends in the local jobs market.

“There will still be jobs for the highly skilled and the low skilled, but it’s the bit in the middle – all those supposedly ‘safe’ roles which will disappear over the next two decades,” she explained.

“It’s the hollowing out of the middle skill set. But parents in Suffolk are still telling their kids to go for those roles which won’t exist in the future.”

Ms Pollard argues that for this reason, the push on STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) at schools is now critical.

She was speaking at the Suffolk Show which took place in Ipswich on Wednesday, as Ms Pollard is currently vice chair of the Suffolk Skills Show steering group and is due to take over from Dayle Bayliss as chair when she goes on maternity leave soon.

“Shows like this one are so important, because they make young people more familiar with the sorts of jobs that will give them a solid future,” Ms Pollard said.

“Kids need to be guided on to the right career paths. We have relied on migrant workers for the last 25 years and have ignored our own critical talent pools in the process.

“We need to look at more job opportunities for former army personnel, and how we treat people with mental health issues. We also need to give more flexibility to working mums, and create more opportunities for people aged 50 to 70. We have lots of potential employees to use if we open our eyes up.”

In the construction industry, Ms Pollard claims that there is a shortage of skilled employees “because we stopped training enough people up 15 years ago.”

But local educators are now more keenly aware of the widening skills gap being created by automation.

Five colleges in Suffolk and Norfolk – including Suffolk New College, Easton and Otley College and West Suffolk College – have applied for a slice of a £170m government cash pot to form a pioneering technology institute, aimed at meeting growing demand for advanced skills.

The Eastern Institute of Technology (EIoT) is now one of 16 national projects in the second stage of bidding.

“The education landscape is changing and there will be more opportunities for a technical education which is more important because of the age of automation that we’re heading into,” said Ms Bayliss. “It’s about changing mindsets.”

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