Since early 2020, the world has been rocked by triple crises: the global pandemic, the ensuing economic disruptions, and the acknowledgement of long-existing racial inequities. With U.S. unemployment sky-high, a majority of Americans are concerned about the future. The usual ladders to security - education, hard work, life-long employment - appear to have broken down.
A.I. Technologist and Entrepreneur, Kai-Fu Lee believes routine jobs will be displaced faster than new jobs will be created in the next 10-15 years. Though we’ll see a net loss of jobs, there will be many jobs invented and created. But how do workers future-proof themselves for jobs that don’t yet exist? What skills will be needed, and is college really worth it?
Chris Francis lost his white collar career in the 2008 recession, and has been piecing together a livelihood ever since. He’s part of a growing movement of nomadic workers, living in their RV’s, and travelling the country from job to job. Today, with retirement less of a guarantee, and younger Americans being the first generation to be worse off than their parents, the American dream is at risk.
From 1977 to 1987, automation and outsourcing rapidly disrupted steel and manufacturing industries in places like Youngstown, Ohio. The result: mass unemployment, and an exodus of people going elsewhere for work. The effect wasn’t just economic; depression, alcoholism, drug use, and suicides rose in Youngstown, foreshadowing the consequences of technology and globalization everywhere.
There are 2.5 million domestic workers in America, and by 2030 that number is expected to double. Many are immigrants, and people of color, often underpaid, with little or no job security. But they do the work that makes all other work possible, and it’s work that’s not going anywhere. For many who lose their employment to automation and outsourcing, domestic work may be a viable option.
Robots are already replacing human jobs. Advocates say they are the jobs people don’t want, but nonetheless, they are paying jobs, and the advent of human-like robots is getting closer as technology advances. AI systems have the capacity to replace humans on a scale never seen before. Should we embrace the future of robots, because it will create jobs that are more meaningful?
Alexsandrah Gondora is a human model, but she’s also Shudu, the first world-wide digital model. Camerson-James Wilson works with real models, but recreates the photos he takes in 3D to create digital models, models who don’t get tired, or sick, and can be in many places at one time. But will modelling as an industry be completely replaced by Artificial Intelligence and technology at large?
When local growers in Yuma, AZ reached out to University of AZ Engineering and Business programs for help modernizing the date industry, inventors and entrepreneurs Madeline Melichar and Evan Westman took up the challenge. Forming a tech start up, they have designed a drone to dispense pollen to the hard-to-reach Medjool date trees. They hope to attract new work and higher paying jobs to the area.
Each year Americans work longer and take fewer vacation days than others in the developed world. American ‘Workism’, logging long hours with little time off, might inspire people to make amazing things, but at what cost? While the COVID pandemic appears to have accelerated this work drive, and many are working more hours, women have been leaving the labor force in disproportionate numbers.
Juan Lopez moved from the military to the oil and gas industry before becoming a wind turbine technician. His path, though not an easy one, is an example of an exciting way to navigate successfully across industries. As this clip shows, working with wind turbines, can be dangerous, but it’s an industry with a future, and Juan knows, if he can keep from getting hurt, he should always have a job.
Tiffany Spraggins decided to go back to college after working jobs with no opportunity for growth. Knowing she wanted to make a livable wage, she started by looking at jobs that paid the salary she wanted. At college, she learned about an apprenticeship program to become a software functions tester, and she’s now on a path to being a full professional in a white-collar job.
When COVID forced his company to completely shut down, Robert LeBlanc initially felt defeated. But looking at Toyota’s production systems helped him re-invent his business. See how he applied a ‘one-piece flow’ production model to his restaurant and hotel, and how he sees this method as the key to the future success of his industry.
15 years ago, Bryant Hospital in Lincoln, NE was one of several hospitals pioneering the use of ‘surgical cobots’. Now they are an accepted part of surgical practices across America. In this video, for example, Dr. Michael Jobst brings new levels of precision, control, and safety to his surgical procedures, by using multi-arm robotic surgery. But does this current generation of robots cost jobs?
Today more than 55 million Americans work in the gig economy, which operates through digital platforms like Uber, Lyft and Task Rabbit. Fueled by technological advancements, the gig economy allows workers like Chloe Grishaw to set her own schedule, and know what she’s agreeing to, without any long-term obligations. The freedom and flexibility, however, comes with financial insecurity.
Technology has completely changed the way that farmers do things today, from the seeds that they plant to the way they drive their equipment. Sarah Lovas’s family has been farming in North Dakota for four generations. Today a farm labor shortage has forced farmers like Sarah to embrace the latest technologies, and agriculture is being digitized.
In 2019, Stockton, CA mayor Michael Tubbs launched an innovative experiment, giving some residents in low income neighborhoods $500/month, no strings attached. Among others, it helped Tomas Vargas Jr. and his family to avoid homelessness. While controversial, many tech titans see this kind of Universal Basic Income as a response to looming job loss, providing a cushion for people to try new ideas.
Before the pandemic, close to 8 million Americans were already using technology to work remotely. Many are entrepreneurial millennials piecing together freelance gigs anywhere in the world, as long as there’s wifi. These digital nomads, like Erick Prince and Mike Holp, enjoy having the freedom to set their own hours and locations, and are leading the conversation about the changing world of work.
Scientist and Entrepreneur Vivienne Ming explores the question, what is the future of work that people are hoping for? As Global Workforce Strategist Ravin Jesuthasan explains, The landscape of work has shifted from ‘I learn, I do, I retire,’ to ‘I learn, I do, I learn, I do,’ ad infinitum. There are no guarantees anymore. So, what does it take to stay relevant in this world of work?