- Automation won't eliminate millions of jobs in the near future as some have predicted, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Task Force on the Work of the Future said in a report released Wednesday, but U.S. stakeholders will need to improve policies to build better careers and share prosperity as changes occur because of automation.
- The task force concluded the chance of job elimination due to robotics, artificial intelligence and other technologies is "exaggerated." Still, technology has contributed to employment polarization, researchers said, as it has disproportionately helped highly-skilled professionals with high skills while reducing opportunity for others. New tech could make matters worse, the task force said, and those without college degrees are particularly at risk.
- Researchers recommended increased investment in the post-secondary workforce with a focus on STEM skills as well as reading, writing and soft skills. But researchers cautioned that improving workers' skill bases isn't enough, and that "the interests of labor and capital need to be rebalanced." Workers should be recognized as stakeholders in corporate decision-making, the task force said.
The report highlights the role organizations of all stripes will need to play in preparing employees for digital transformation. Technology's impact may be unpredictable, but experts have been clear in stating that learning and development professionals must make inroads to provide staff members with basic digital literacy at minimum.
Many HR departments are looking to partnership arrangements in this endeavor, according to a February report by Information Services Group. Still, HR professionals in a recent study by The Hackett Group said they lack the budget and resources to meet digital transformation.
According to a Willis Towers Watson survey released in July, a majority of U.S. companies don't have a plan to deal with increased automation in the workplace, yet most of those surveyed said they would need a "breakthrough in leadership development" to meet perceived challenges. The MIT report's findings underscore the need to prepare not only for the effect it will have on the business side of organizations, but also on organizational culture. Microsoft, in discussing the results of a 2018 survey, said that employers will need to learn how to empower workers to adopt digital tools.
While some studies estimate that new tech will ultimately create more jobs than it eliminates, people will still be part of the equation in digital transformation efforts, according to a 2019 report by Workhuman. The rise of technology, the company said, will allow organizations to better leverage workers' creativity and innovation at work.