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#AI@Work: Reskilling & Repurposing Work

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
—Charles Darwin

There is no doubt the economy is being dislodged and disrupted but certain workers, young men and minorities in particular, are seeing the greatest displacement. Nonwhite and less economically secure workers are more likely to be replaced. People who lack education and people where significant differences exist across geographic and demographic areas are at risk. Food preparation, which is usually done by lower income, less educated, nonwhite workers, is likely to be 91% automated in the next five years. Ethnic minorities are often found in lower skilled jobs. Jobs that require reasoning, persuasion, laboring and politics are less likely to be disrupted. These patterns are not surprising considering men are the majority of workers in manufacturing and construction. Both of those industries will be impacted by automation and robots. The progress of AI will fall unevenly on the workplace. This is another reason why government at all levels, federal, state and local, needs to step up and help with re-skilling workers. AI will make simple and repetitive tasks disappear first. As AI advances, any job that is redundant, even if it is more complex, will be at risk.

Both work and the workplace are starting to look very different. There’s a disconnect. The pathways through hiring and education to career success are not keeping up with the workplace. Technology continues to advance. The line between soft and hard skills is vanishing. In 2019, University of South Florida did research and concluded that the six most important skills for the workplace in 2029 will be communications, problem solving, collaboration, ability to learn, creativity and resilience. All very human skills. What matters moving forward is not how difficult a skill is but whether that skill can be performed by machines.

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