World Economic Forum Report Points Toward “Reskilling” in the Face of Tech

The World Economic Forum (WEF), which meets this week in Davos, Switzerland, released its latest report Monday – Towards a Reskilling Revolution, A Future of Jobs for All. The report, which was conducted in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group and utilizes 2016 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, predicts dire consequences for women and less educated workers who do not get the training they need before 2026. Further, workers’ comp carriers will likely need to “reskill” themselves as automation permanently reduces payroll.

The report notes:

Our model uncovers that approximately 4.7 percent of all U.S. workers projected to be displaced by structural labor market shifts by 2026—approximately 57,000 individuals—are left without immediately viable job transition options. Across all job [categories], the affected workers are heavily concentrated in three roles: Postal Service Mail Sorters (Office and Administrative), Processing Machine Operators (Production), and Sewing Machine Operators (Production), precisely the kind of occupations predicted to be heavily impacted by increasing workplace automation.

Female workers currently occupy about 57 percent of the 1.4 million U.S. jobs to be disrupted by technology between now and 2026. This fact could further exacerbate the gender pay gap that exists worldwide.

As the WEF researchers explain, the roles that men and women perform in organizations remain out of balance, which makes women more vulnerable to disruptive market changes. On both an individual and policy level, the WEF recommends getting ahead of the changes by “reskilling” regularly over the course of a career. “Reskilling” refers in essence to learning transferable skills.

On a local level, reskilling on a grand scale could be a particularly important task for the Louisiana economy, which has traditionally depended on notoriously unstable sectors like fossil fuels and tourism.

However, Dana Eness, Executive Director of The Urban Conservancy + Stay Local! is optimistic about the potential of the local workforce. “Not only do I think New Orleans leadership is well-positioned to invest in reskilling, but it is critical that they do so,” she said. “Policymakers can help position New Orleanians that are at risk of job loss is by identifying industries that are expected to grow and where New Orleans has a technological advantage. Water management is one of those areas that is expected to grow and where New Orleans can be a leader. Providing traditional contractors, landscapers, landscape architects, engineers and others with the skills they’ll need to be competitive and profitable in the green sector is an excellent investment.”

As a corollary to the jobs that will go the way of the Dodo in the face of technological innovation, automation and its victims will affect workers’ comp carriers, who calculate premium based on payroll. As fewer human workers become necessary to complete a task, payroll may decline precipitously.

A different economic report analyzed by Assured Research in October 2017 indicates that up to 42 percent of workers’ comp premiums could disappear by 2030 due to automation. The data come from the Citi/Oxford report titled, Technology at Work: The Future of Innovation and Employment, which details the percentage of jobs that have “low risk,” “medium risk,” and “high risk” of automation for 21 different NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes. Assured Research used those percentages to extrapolate and calculated that workers’ comp premium loss could equal $26.5 billion.

Asked if we are living in the calm before the technological storm, Troy Prevot, Executive Vice President of LCTA Workers’ Comp, said that it is all about preparation – reskilling on an organizational level. “If you haven’t thought about this, you are blind to a very changing environment,” he said. “Software alone is eliminating jobs in some sectors, and it is not clear to me how new jobs will be created with the exception of information technology. Automation alone is enough of a disruptor (along with safer workplaces) that will make insurance companies have to rethink how they do business.”

Indeed, rethinking how workers’ comp carriers and the workers they protect “do business” could mean a shift n how qualifications are delineated. As the WEF notes in the conclusion of their report, “widespread adoption of micro-credentials and new methods of education and training delivery that combine online and offline models will be necessary for creating new opportunities for workers.”




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