by Wol Kolade

“People are losing their jobs to robots and nobody seems to have noticed.” Wol Kolade speaks to the Mail on Sunday about the automation tipping point

Addressing the rise of automation technology and the conversation surrounding diversity, Wol Kolade offers his views on the issues that will affect the next generation.

Whilst the UK political conversation is very much focused upon Brexit, Wol tells Jamie Nimmo from the Mail on Sunday that his focus is on the rise of automation, an issue that he believes will have a long-lasting effect on society.

“At the moment it’s under the radar,’ he says. ‘But give it five years and suddenly we’ll have a new problem. What do you do with well-educated people who worked hard, did all the right things, embraced technology and then technology took their job?”

“We’re utterly consumed by Brexit and most people are talking about goods crossing borders. I’m talking about stuff that’s going to impact the next ten, 15 or 20 years and the next generation.”

“Is the Government talking about it? Are people talking about it? No. And yet, how fast did that occur?” he asks, pointing at my smartphone and referring to the speed people started using them. “Very.”

“I don’t know when this tipping point is going to come – three, five, ten, 15 years – I don’t know. But at some point it’s going to come – things like driverless cars which everyone is getting very excited about. It doesn’t employ many people. In fact, it takes their jobs.”

Wol sees the rise of automation in all sectors as inevitable and offers a policy idea that could help. “I would ensure that every single child has digital skills. Universal. I’d retrain all adults. I’d make sure everyone in this country could code [computer programs].”

Addressing the issue of diversity as one of the few black business leaders in London, he says it is ‘frustrating’ that the conversation about diversity has yet to centre on ethnic minorities as much as women, as many still struggle to make it to the top.

He sees many firms ticking boxes on diversity but says the crucial issue is company culture, adding that he would fire anyone who was sexist or racist. “It’s a cancer in your business. Get rid of it.”

He adds: “This is how pathetic it is. We’ve literally won deals because we’re the only people who have a woman in a senior position. The pace at which that’s happened has caught a lot of people out actually.”

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