As mentioned in our discussions of automation and the need for greater entrepreneurship, the nature of work is moving away from lifelong careers towards ‘portfolio’ careers and short-term contracts. Much unskilled work is being automated by machines and semi-skilled work by software applications. The modern workforce needs to be flexible, able to re-skill to meet new opportunities and challenges, and to diversify the economy through new business creation. Higher levels of education are essential for this process, not only through pupils remaining in education for longer, but through making continuing professional development more accessible, and making it possible for people to retrain for new careers as some industries become redundant.
We have already had schemes in place to pay pupils to stay in school beyond 16, and grants or loans for students attending University, so it is well understood that the need to work full-time to support oneself represents a frequently insurmountable barrier to education. The introduction of a Basic Income would remove this barrier, allowing people to explore their potential more fully, which can only have a positive effect on Scotland socially and economically as well as creating a more fulfilling life for the individual concerned. Higher levels of education are also associated with better health, which is addressed here.