This is a really interesting article from Matthew Taylor which I heard him elaborate on at an event last night. In essence he concluded that technology would replace a lot of back office and processing types public sector jobs but they would be replaced by more rewarding jobs based on collaboration and relationship building and working with communities using skills that we as human beings actually have inherently.
How much better would public services be if our public sector got out of the back office say processing benefits and spent the time engaging with people about how they manage their money and support themselves back into work - it's of far more value than sitting behind a computer. We have as a society lost some of our ability to collaborate and work with and look after our citizens. Automation opens up an opportunity to work differently.
In its influential vision for 2020 Public Services, published in 2011, the RSA developed the idea of ‘social productivity’. This is the extent to which the design and provision of public services taps into and enhances the capacity of individuals and communities to meet their own needs by being individually resilient, adaptive and collectively collaborative and public spirited. The idea echoed similar notions to be seen in public value theory, the idea of the ‘relational state’ and even some of the rhetoric of the Big Society. Sadly, this agenda has largely run into the sand, partly due to a lack of commitment and imagination, but also as a consequence of austerity. The evidence suggests that GPs who spend time getting to know patients, social carers who work with the efforts of families and communities, teachers who engage with parents and police forces that connect with neighbourhoods will achieve better outcomes. But in a world of tight budgets and tough targets it is precisely this preventative, relational work that has been squeezed. Furthermore, the jobs at the boundary between the state and civil society – community, youth and outreach workers, for example – were often the first to go.