A forum exploring the impact of new technology on business was held by the University of Bolton.

The Institute of Management organised The Future of Work Forum, which was informed by the latest academic and practitioner research.

The event delved into the effect automation and other technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and robotics is having on jobs, skills, operational structures and financial models.

Academics, research funders, practitioners and consultants joined to debate how businesses will respond to disruptive change on an unprecedented scale.

An overview of topics covered:

  • Katie Minton and Megan Jones from Deloitte’s ‘Future of Work’ team presented their assessment of the changing business world and the challenges and opportunities for business leaders, owners, managers and employees
  • Bill Dawson, the Director of the Institute of Management and Special Projects, spoke about training and education
  • Alyson Fadil, a Visiting Fellow of the Institute of Management, outlined the difficult decisions faced by the retail business to secure its continued survival
  • Dr Annie Gibney, from The Economic Social Research Council (ESRC), shared the key findings from their recent ‘Future of Work’ consultation, which brought together an audience of academics, business practitioners, third sector representatives and policy-makers
  • Dr Ebrahim Adia, Deputy Leader of Bolton Council, Assistant Deputy for Economic Strategy at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Provost at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), also gave a presentation at the Forum

A delegation of Principals and Senior Managers from 20 separate vocational education colleges in Shanghai, led by Executive Vice-Principal, Professor Jian Zhou, also attended.

The Chinese delegates had been welcomed by Bill Dawson, Director of the Institute, and Martyn Shaw, the university’s Business Development Director.

Their four week visit to Bolton is part of an ongoing collaboration with Shanghai Municipal Government’s Education Commission.

The successful Future of Work Forum will directly inform how future ESRC funding in this area is spent, to ensure that it has a positive impact on the challenges and opportunities experienced by businesses across the UK.
It was the first pilot ESRC consultation exercise of its kind directly engaging with business and is an important step in giving regional businesses a voice to influence the nature and focus of research on the Future of Work.

The event was held with support from the North West Employee Engagement Group (NWEEG).

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