'Reskilling crisis' emerging as 1.4M U.S. jobs face technology disruption
- Rising technologies and socio-economic forces are expected to disrupt 1.4 million jobs in the U.S. between now and 2026, according to report from the World Economic Forum, which is meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland. The report analyzed 1,000 U.S. jobs, which account for 96% of national employment.
- Referred to as a "reskilling crisis," only 2% of workers could transition to new jobs if immediately called on to take another position that matched their skill set. Most other workers, however, have few skills required to transition jobs; 16% have no opportunities to transition to new jobs.
- Robust reskilling is necessary to prevent declining salaries and job displacement, requiring highly transferable — or hybrid — skills like collaboration, critical thinking and subject matter expertise. Such reskilling could "lift wages and increase social mobility," allowing the average U.S. worker dozens of viable job transitions.
Fourth Industrial Revolution fervor has reached a fever pitch as experts across industries warn of impending job disruption. Technology and evolving consumer demands are sure to eliminate jobs, creating a reskilling challenge both government entities and businesses are responsible for remedying.
While the report projects large-scale job displacement through 2026, other experts say there is a far more rapid timeline. Gartner anticipates that starting in 2020, AI will disrupt 1.8 million jobs. The upside, however, is the research firm anticipates AI will also create 2.3 million jobs, creating a net positive of a half million jobs.
Though technology can have a positive impact on job growth, creating new opportunities, workers will still be displaced from traditional jobs like cashiers, assembly-line workers, customer service representatives and truck drivers, for example. Technology disruption is set to disproportionately impact women, who represent 57% of the workers sure to be impacted, according to the report.
As the report notes, both highly skilled and generalized roles will need "significant reskilling." Without reskilling, such workers are unqualified for the new jobs that technology could create.
The burden for retraining falls to those implementing disruptive technology, a social responsibility that comes with innovation. Some companies are already working to create pathways for retraining and offer opportunities in highly lucrative fields. Last week, Google launched a entry-level IT certificate program to train workers on skills like automation and security.
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