The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee on Information Technology, Automation, and the U.S. Workforce released a report last week called Information Technology and the US Workforce: Where are we and Where Do We Go From Here. The report, co-chaired by Eric Brynjolfsson (MIT) and Tom Mitchell (CMU), highlights the impacts of information technology on the current and future US workforce.
Recent advances in computing and communication technologies have had and will continue to have a profound impact on our society. Soon technology will affect almost every occupation. This is creating large economics benefits but is also leading to significant changes for our workforce.
From the Report Description:
“IT and automation can change the way work is conducted, by augmenting or replacing workers in specific tasks. This can shift the demand for some types of human labor, eliminating some jobs and creating new ones. Information Technology and the U.S. Workforce explores the interactions between technological, economic, and societal trends and identifies possible near-term developments for work. This report emphasizes the need to understand and track these trends and develop strategies to inform, prepare for, and respond to changes in the labor market. It offers evaluations of what is known, notes open questions to be addressed, and identifies promising research pathways moving forward.”
The report highlights six key findings:
- Advances in information technology (IT) are far from over, and some of the biggest improvements in areas like artificial intelligence (AI) are likely still to come.
- These advances in technology will result in automation of some jobs, augmentation of workers’ abilities to perform others, and the creation of still others.
- The recent increase in income inequality in the United States is due to multiple forces, including advances in IT and its diffusion, globalization, and economic policy
- IT is enabling new work relationships, including a new form of on-demand employment. Although current digital platforms for on demand work directly involve less than 1 percent of the workforce, they display significant growth potential.
- As IT continues to complement or substitute for many work tasks, workers will require skills that increasingly emphasize creativity, adaptability, and interpersonal skills over routine information processing and manual tasks. The education system will need to adapt to prepare individuals for the changing labor market. At the same time, recent IT advances offer new and potentially more widely accessible ways to access education.
- Policy makers and researchers would benefit significantly from a better understanding of evolving IT options and their implications for the workforce. In particular, (1) sustained, integrated, multidisciplinary research and (2) improved, ongoing tracking of workforce and technology developments would be of great value for informing public policies, organizational choices, and education and training strategies.
The report stresses that investing in extensive and effective data gathering, a robust infrastructure for analyzing these data, and multidisciplinary research will enable a deeper understanding of emerging changes in technology and the workforce.
To learn more, see the full report here.