This report was primarily written prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 national dialogue calling for meaningful racial justice reforms. Though these two important events are not mentioned directly, they have had widespread and disproportionate impacts on marginalized groups, and further highlight the relevance of this report. As organizations choose the path forward, it is imperative they rethink deeply held orthodoxies in order to shape a more inclusive Future of Work. Generating innovative pathways to employment for marginalized populations has never been more critically needed by so many.
The future of work
The nature of work is changing rapidly. Technological advancements—including robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI)—are shifting roles, responsibilities, and what has traditionally dictated the work of humans versus the work of machines.1 As automation becomes more prolific, machines will likely perform many predictable cognitive and physical activities, such as operating machinery, administrative tasks, or preparing food.
Collectively, the forces shaping the future of work are likely to have many positive impacts, including creating new employment opportunities,2 developing unique platforms to engage alternative workers such as freelancers or contract-based workers,3 and increasing productivity and economic growth.4 But they may also create new challenges related to the displacement of jobs and rapidly changing demand for technical and essentially human skills. Many employers are placing a higher premium on human skills such as problem-solving, empathy, and creativity in their workforce as AI and robotics transform previously manual tasks. Considering alternative hiring pathways could help organizations meet these skills and competency requirements in the future of work.
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