Work Transition

AI and other automation technologies have great promise for benefitting society and enhancing productivity, but appropriate policies by companies and governments are needed to help manage workforce transitions and make them as smooth as possible. The McKinsey Global Institute report AI, automation, and the future of work: Ten things to solve for states that “There is work for everyone today and there will be work for everyone tomorrow, even in a future with automation. Yet that work will be different, requiring new skills, and a far greater adaptability of the workforce than we have seen. Training and retraining both mid-career workers and new generations for the coming challenges will be an imperative. Government, private-sector leaders, and innovators all need to work together to better coordinate public and private initiatives, including creating the right incentives to invest more in human capital. The future with automation and AI will be challenging, but a much richer one if we harness the technologies with aplomb—and mitigate the negative effects.” They list likely actionable and scalable solutions in several key areas:

1. Ensuring robust economic and productivity growth

2. Fostering business dynamism

3. Evolving education systems and learning for a changed workplace

4. Investing in human capital

5. Improving labor-market dynamism

6. Redesigning work

7. Rethinking incomes

8. Rethinking transition support and safety nets for workers affected

9. Investing in drivers of demand for work

10. Embracing AI and automation safely

In redesigning work and rethinking incomes, we have the chance for bold ideas that improve the lives of workers and give them more interesting jobs that could provide meaning, purpose, and dignity.

Some of the categories of new jobs that could replace old jobs are
1. Making, designing, and coding in AI, data science, and engineering occupations
2. Working in new types of non-AI jobs that are enhanced by AI, making unpleasant old jobs more palatable or providing new jobs that are more interesting; the gig economy and crowdsourcing ideas are examples that could provide creative employment options
3. Providing living wages for people to do things they love; for example, in the arts through dramatic funding increases for NEA and NEH programs. Grants to individual artists and musicians, professional and amateur musical organizations, and informal arts education initiatives could enrich communities while providing income for millions of people. Policies to implement this idea could be one piece of the future-of-work puzzle and be much more preferable for the economy and society than allowing large-scale unemployment due to loss of work from automation.