As we talk about how we bring the tens of millions of unemployed Americans back into the workforce, there is a lot of discussion around upskilling and the importance of every jobseeker having strong tech and digital skills. There is a big divide between the need and the reality, and the lack of access to broadband is making that divide even wider.

A third of all American workers, and half of all Black and Latino workers, already have limited or no digital skills, according to Digital US, a nonprofit working to ensure that everyone has the technology skills and digital resilience to thrive in work and life. Without broadband access, people will be left behind in our changing economy and workforce.

“For folks to be ready for the jobs of the future they need technology and the most critical one is the internet. It is as vital as water, electricity, and really has risen to the level of a human right,” Chike Aguh, a senior advisor to Digital US and a senior principal of The McChrystal Group, tells me in this episode of the Work in Progress podcast.

18 million Americans do not have broadband access, and you may be surprised to learn that the majority of those people live in urban areas, not rural areas. Aguh makes the strong case that this lack of access puts these jobseekers at a disadvantage in the hiring process.

“When was the last time someone submitted a paper job application? So literally the most vital things that are critical to living your life, and creating a better life for you and your family, go through the internet. That’s why it has to be available for everyone.”

Access to broadband is part of the bigger Digital US mission, which is to ensure there are programs in place that can help everyone get the skills they need in our digital economy.

“Very simply, every job and every task is a technology job or a technology task. We need to make sure that for all these new technologies that are coming out that workers have the digital skills—the ability to use those tools—but even more important, they need the digital resilience to learn new skills as those technologies change over time,” says Aguh, whose role at The McCrystal Group is to help organizations understand the future of work and how to adapt to it.

Aguh has spent much of his career examining how technology is changing the workforce and the need to create equal access to the internet to ensure everyone has the digital skills to take part in the transformation. He is definitely someone you want to listen to! You can listen to the full episode here, or download and listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Episode 140: Chike Aguh, Senior Principal, The McCrystal Group, and Senior Advisor, Digital US
Host: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan Lynch, Melissa Panzer, and Ramona Schindelheim
Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4.0.

You can check out all the other podcasts at this link: Work in Progress podcasts

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