By: Jeanette M. Shaw
Today, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published The Future of Jobs, a report describing today’s technological and sociological employment drivers.
The report summarizes, “According to many industry observers, we are today on the cusp of a Fourth Industrial Revolution. Developments in previously disjointed fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and genetics and biotechnology are all building on and amplifying one another. Smart systems—homes, factories, farms, grids or entire cities—will help tackle problems ranging from supply chain management to climate change.”
Employment trends are leveraging technology to drive the growth of mobile internet, cloud, more efficient computing power and Big Data. These technologies are providing more flexibility, on-demand work and remote work. Outdated federal and state employment laws are impeding these trends due to the political and legal disputes surrounding independent contractors (Techolicy’s white paper, Modernizing Employment Policies to Unleash the New Economy, digs into why).
Recognizing the need for fourth industrial revolution workers, many states, including Oregon, have coordinated state efforts to boost science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) careers as well as career technical education (CTE). Additionally, in a model of collaboration, STEM hubs from communities across the United States have launched a national STEM Ecosystems Initiative offering young people in the United States access to STEM learning environments to prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“We look forward to continuing our work with communities nationwide,” said Gerald Solomon, co-chair of the STEM Funders Network and executive director of the Samueli Foundation. “We know that these grassroots, local partnerships can provide a sustainable way to ensure STEM learning is truly ‘everywhere’ for all learners as they build the skills and knowledge to thrive in a global workforce.”
Given today’s pace and scale of disruption, the U.S. needs to ensure a modern workforce is available to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. By bringing together White House officials, schools, out-of-school programs, business and community leaders and STEM-rich institutions such as museums, the STEM Ecosystems Initiative will provide a sustainable way to ensure STEM learning is truly everywhere.
In addition to promoting an educated workforce, policymakers also must empower the growth of digital marketplaces and mobile platforms that more efficiently connect workers with work. While the workforce of the past was organized around companies, it appears the workforce of the future is shaping up to be organized around workers. Let’s not stifle American ingenuity with outdated laws and regulations.