Technology and the Workforce - 4/18/14 | WYPR

Technology and the Workforce - 4/18/14

Apr 18, 2014

There is a feeling among many that technological progress threatens the well-being of the workforce.  After all, back in the 19th century, steam power and machinery destroyed many traditional jobs, but also created new ones.  This time, the culprits are computers, more powerful software, robots and other manifestations of progress.  These technologies have replaced manufacturing and service workers alike. 

As pointed out by writer Tyler Cowen, driverless vehicles and drone aircraft are no longer relegated to science fiction and may over time eliminate millions of transportation jobs.  But the fact of the matter is that for the foreseeable future, employers will still need humans.  It might be worth remembering that as recently as the year 2000, the rate of unemployment in the U.S. was just 4 percent.  That said, the workforce cannot afford to remain still. 

It’s now common for a fire chief to have a master’s degree.  Many of the expanding economic sectors use specialized technology.  Rapidly growing occupations tied to health and education also require significant credentialing.  Moreover, the number of jobs covered by occupational rising continues to rise and represent nearly a third of the workforce.