With exponential advancement in technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics, the entire labor market will change.
Hugh Herr: The new bionics that let us run, climb and dance
While many current jobs and tasks will disappear, labor markets will adjust to changes in demand for workers; eight to nine percent of 2030 labor demand will be in new types of occupations that haven’t yet been invented. Rising incomes and consumption, new technology creation, investment in infrastructure and new energy also all point to economic growth, which points to job growth. We should act to ensure individuals with different abilities and other barriers are included in this sea change.
Work is more than a paycheck; it is self-sustainability, independent living, family support, pride, dignity, and equality.
Now is the time to be a driving force for change and create inclusive pipelines to the future state of work. This opportunity could be seized to ensure training in skills and technology deployment are complimentary.
With the exponential advancement in technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics, the entire labor market will change. Companies are seeing the labor costs they could save, and the output increase they could gain, and are already adopting technologies that majorly impact processes, products, and labor. 50% of current work activities are automatable with currently demonstrated technologies, and six out of ten current occupations have more than 30% of activities that are automatable (McKinsey and Company 2019). An impact projection estimates up to 54 million people in the US will be displaced from their work by 2030 (McKinsey and Company 2019).
Millions of people may need to switch occupations or upgrade skills to remain employable in this fourth industrial revolution, but individuals with different abilities will be disproportionately impacted. Individuals with barriers to employment are more concentrated in service, production, transportation, and material moving occupations (US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019). Because of the level of predictable physical work in these sectors, particularly in entry- and part-time positions, there is a higher technical feasibility for automation.
One in four adults in the United States have a different ability (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2018). Yet, the employment-population ratio was only 19.1% for persons with different abilities in 2018 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019). Coupled with the swings in types of jobs available in the coming years, this number could decline even further.
While there are workforce development programs targeted at individuals with barriers, we have not seen major progress in employment, and none are proactively preparing for this impending change.