Not all researchers agree that artificial intelligence is as an important of a development as electricity or fire , or that hundreds of millions of jobs will be automated in the next decade . But, it is clear that an increasing array of skills will soon be completed by machines. And workers need to be prepared for a future where they may have to develop a larger skillset than ever before.
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a tech-friendly think thank , published a report today detailing how worker training policies will need to be adjusted in the age of A.I. and robotics. ITIF gives a vast number of policy recommendations in the report, most of which will likely not come to fruition. But the report does offer a useful overview of what shortfalls exist in current training and retraining programs.
“Many especially older dislocated workers haven’t been in a classroom since they were 18 and may be leery of going back to school,” Maria Heidkamp, the director of the New Start Career Network at Rutger University’s Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, told VentureBeat in response to an inquiry about what some of the biggest barriers are that workers face when searching for job retraining programs. “Many are not sure what training might offer a good return on investment for them, and it can be difficult to find unbiased career advice.”
It’s worth nothing that TIF, which has received funding from tech lobbying groups such as the Wireless Association and the Information Technology Industry Council , has a rosier view than other organizations on how technology will impact the workforce. A previous study conducted by ITIF estimates that only 8 percent of jobs will be at high risk of automation by 2024.
ITIF president Rob Atkinson, who authored the report, claims that automation will allow recent college graduates who are overqualified for the jobs that they are currently in to move up in the job ladder. Atkinson also rejects the idea that automation will worsen income inequality.
The thinking is that as lower-wage jobs are automated, companies will pass those savings onto consumers by lowering the prices of goods and services. Spending will increase, and thus will create more higher-wage, high-skilled jobs.
Nonetheless, the ITIF acknowledges that workers will “lose their jobs through no fault of their own, including from technology,” and the U.S. needs to do a better job of investing in programs that will help these workers. The U.S. invests just 0.1 percent of its GDP in workforce training and support programs.
The policy recommendations fall into one of four different categories: policies that will ensure full employment, nationally and regionally; ensure workers have needed competencies before they are laid off; reduce financial hardships for laid-off workers; and provide better transition assistance to help laid-off workers find new employment. […]