I’m grateful to you all at Imperial College for having me here to speak today. And what an inspiring place it is to speak about the future of the economy and the world of work, at the College’s new Incubator where start-ups and entrepreneurs can work alongside some of the leading minds in science.
My own experiences of work began with the technological revolution of the time. Looking back at it now, I think about the possibilities open to us then. There were skilled jobs available for the millions who, like me, didn’t go straight from university. There was generous access to courses at local FE colleges. There was free education for those who did go to university.
On modest means, a young person could buy a house. After all the advances we have made, why is it that so many things we took for granted back then are no longer available to our children’s generation?
Wages for the under 30s have been decimated since the financial crisis, and are still 10% below their 2010 level. Home ownership in many parts of the country is out of the reach of the millions whose parents are unable to help with a deposit. Social housing is almost a distant memory, and the insecurity of private renting means upheaval and uncertainty for a majority.
How did this come about? How can it be, with all the productive and creative advances of the last few decades that in some of the most important aspects of life, my grandchildren have a less secure life to look forward to than mine?
John Maynard Keynes famously predicted in the 1930s that these expanding capacities would lead to a fifteen hour working week, the rest of the time filled...
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