Markle Foundation Among Those Stepping Up To The Worker Retraining Challenge

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Markle Foundation Among Those Stepping Up To The Worker Retraining Challenge

Would you feel relatively sanguine if your job were at risk of being automated? You might if you lived in Sweden. That's because most Swedish workers who are replaced by machines fairly quickly land another job as good as their old one, thanks to a network of job security councils jointly run by industries and unions that retrain laid off workers in skills that are still in demand and out of reach of robots. Moreover, while unemployed and learning new skills, workers are buoyed by a safety net that includes generous jobless benefits.

"Our system of retraining could be better, but it's better than those in most countries," says Carl Melin, research director at Futurion, a union-funded Stockholm think tank.

That's great for Sweden, but challenges remain for much of the rest of the world.

Here's why. A recent report by consultants McKinsey Global Institute states that millions of jobs worldwide are at risk of being automated by 2030. As alarming as that sounds, the labor market upheaval caused by rapidly advancing technologies, including artificial intelligence and robotics, should still have a happy ending. Because McKinsey also says that the inevitable march of mechanization will likewise spur greater productivity, boosting wages, consumption and economic growth – thus creating a boom that leads to an even greater number of new jobs.

But there's a big caveat to reaching that win-win scenario: retraining and public assistance programs at an unprecedented level will be needed...

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