In the not-so-distant future, we can create a labor market where employers value the potential of people who may not hold four-year college degrees, but possess skills companies desperately need. In this future, people would get a fair shot at a fulfilling job, a rewarding career, and a better life for themselves and their families.
That future starts with understanding the problem we face today.
Technological advancements such as automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the nature of work and opportunity. Low-wage workers and other vulnerable Americans will likely bear the brunt of displacement as technology takes on more repetitive tasks.
Already, companies say they have difficulty finding enough “qualified” candidates to fill open roles. If employers and policymakers don’t help workers prepare for the challenges of a tech-intensive future, the perceived skills gap will only continue to grow and good jobs will go unfilled.
To address these challenges:
Automation, AI, machine learning, and other emerging technologies are expected to impact millions of jobs. According to IBM, these innovations will require up to 120 million workers worldwide to be retrained over the next three years in the world’s 12 largest economies1.
32% of the workforce will need to be retrained and learn new skills to remain in the workforce2.
Vulnerable populations – low-wage workers, non-college graduates, rural Americans, and minorities – face the highest risk from displacement due to technology advances.
The outlook for the first two groups is bleak:
Minority and younger workers also face heightened risk of being displaced by technology:
It’s not just workers who face challenges. Businesses could suffer if they fail to harness technology and build a resilient workforce prepared to thrive in the future of work.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Historically, disruptive technologies have improved business efficiency and spurred the creation of more jobs than those lost, moving business and the economy forward.
Between 1910 and 1960, tech innovation in the agricultural industry reduced the number of farm jobs in America from 33% to just 8% of the labor force, with approximately 9.7 million jobs lost9. Instead of succumbing to the disruption, America persevered, shifting our collective focus to build a high school movement that prepared young people for new office and factory jobs. This helped create the strongest middle class in the world.
Likewise, the Internet boom has had a dramatic impact on job creation. By some estimates, one out of every three jobs that exist today did not exist 25 years ago10. The same opportunity for positive impact lies before us now.
One out of every three jobs that exist today did not exist 25 years ago11
As the nature of work evolves, we have the opportunity to make transformative changes that not only serve businesses well but also expand opportunities for workers. In order to achieve this:
“The impact of technology on our lives — and on the future of meaningful work — is the result of research, investment, regulatory, and business model choices that are made by people.”