Preparing Our Workforce Nation With New Skills for Automation
“How do we reposition our workforce to remain competitive? The answer lies in retraining the workforce nation to excel in automation and technology in the 21st century marketplace. Think about that for a moment… what has happened to work in the past few decades. Many in the workforce were raised with the ‘jobs for life’ philosophy of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. These positions required no postsecondary education, no specialized training, or certification, just a high school diploma. Those days are gone forever.
Then reality hit in the 80’s and 90’s, with automation and technology. In the manufacturing sector, many jobs that were traditionally performed by people are now automated, with machines replacing factory workers. This evolution is not just limited to the manufacturing industry. All industries have been affected by “automation” and “technology”. As I sit writing this article in Panera Bread on Long Island, NY I can order my food at a kiosk. McDonald just unveiled their touch screen self-service kiosk at various locations throughout the U.S. These kiosks will replace some cash register positions. Recently, Amazon announced plans to use automation to displace cashiers. They plan to open a futuristic grocery store eliminating the human element.
At many of our hospitals robots are now performing minimally invasive surgery. Today more and more hospitals are using TUG Robots to: transport food, linens, medications, medical waste and garbage. The need to know how to operate and service these robots creates a wealth of new opportunities for those who stay ahead of the curve and retrain themselves. Advance technology allows us to check-in our airline flight and bags bypassing the customer service agent. With these advances in technology significant numbers of jobs were eliminated.
It is estimated that by the year 2020, two-thirds of all jobs will require some level of postsecondary education. Today’s manufacturing jobs are more sophisticated and are requiring a more advanced skillsets than the prior decade. Technology is changing at a rapid pace. Automation is dominating manufacturing jobs. There is a significant gap between the demand for skilled workers and the number of jobs that need to be filled. This shortage in the manufacturing industry is occurring because technology is outpacing the supply of skilled competent laborers.
Where did all the manufacturing jobs go? Well, they never left. Each year many manufacturing jobs go unfilled because the supply of skilled labor is at an all-time low. We have a responsibility to tackle this problem. First, businesses need to start investing in workforce learning by offering apprenticeships and on-the-job-training programs to fill the growing middle skills job vacancies and help build road maps for closing the skills gap. Second, individuals need to change their mind-sets and they must understand the jobs and skillsets of yesterday are outdated and obsolete. If you want to continue working you must update your skills to meet the 21st century demand. Today’s workforce must take the responsibly to broaden their horizons through the power of learning, retooling, and retraining!
Dr. Corinthia Price is the CEO and Founder of Workforce Career Readiness®. She also serves as the Chief Workforce Development Strategist. Workforce Career Readiness® mission is to ensure that businesses and organizations have a competent workforce equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in a 21st century marketplace. Workforce Career Readiness® specializes in College & Career Readiness, Workforce Development, and Entrepreneurship Education.