Even before COVID-19, there was a ongoing disruption in the workforce. Millions of jobs were already being impacted by changes in technology—AI and machine learning and more. Globalization and longevity were also changing the makeup of the workforce and the types of skills that employers valued in an employee—and demanded.

The cracks in the system became even more apparent as the pandemic took hold.

WorkingNation decided to ask employees and jobseekers about their experiences and their thoughts when it comes to being prepared for in-demand jobs and careers today and tomorrow.

In this first Work in Progress podcast of the new year, we share with you some of the findings of our WorkingNation American Workers Survey. And in our discussion, we take a closer look at what might happen to the workforce if we don’t address the concerns of workers and employers.

My guests are Art Bilger, who founded WorkingNation nearly five years ago with the mission of creating nationwide aware of the escalating changes in the workforce and their impact on workers, and Frank Luntz, well-known pollster and the president of FIL Incorporated, which conducted the poll on our behalf.

The American Worker and the American Dream

“We’ve been thinking about these issues of workforce changes that are the result of four things coming together like never before in history. And that is globalization, technology, longevity—units of labor staying in the workforce much longer—and then challenging education,” explains Bilger.

“What’s happened is, courtesy of the pandemic, this has all accelerated quite dramatically. And that’s why, as we go into 2021, I think it’s imperative that the people of this country, at all levels, be much more educated as to where the jobs of the future will be, and the mitigating strategies and solutions on how to get them,” he adds.

Luntz says the findings support Bilger’s sense of urgency.

“It’s an understanding, and it’s an accurate understanding, that life has changed, and the world has changed, and they’re going to have to live in a new world.” says Luntz. “They can’t wish it away. They’ve got to be prepared for it. From automation, to outsourcing, to globalization, all three of those are on the minds of the workforce, and they see all three of them as working against them as they try to keep up with the changes.”

More than half of workers (61%) do not believe they have the right skills necessary to land a good, family-sustaining job. Two out of five workers (40%) believe that this is cause for great concern in our society. And a startling 56% of workers say they were not aware of existing skills training programs, nor where to find them.

This is critical.

Without that information, says Luntz, the American Dream will be out of reach for the men and women in this country. “I believe that if you don’t have the skills to function, if you don’t have the talents for what we will need, not today, but what we’re going to need next year and the year after that, then there’s no way for you to stay in the middle class.”

READ: American Workers Survey: Concern over skills obsolescence

Bilger stresses the important of businesses, educators, nonprofits, and government working together to create solutions and emphasize lifelong learning.

“When you start talking about lifelong learning, it’s really many components to it taking place over your lifetime. And it doesn’t mean four years of college or two years of grad school. It could mean all kinds of other training programs that are now being developed by businesses. It doesn’t have to be traditional education the way we grew up living with it,” Bilger explains.

In the podcast, we go over more of the findings and more of the concerns and solutions.

You can listen to the full Work in Progress podcast here, or you can download it wherever you get your podcasts.

Download the transcript for this podcast here.

Episode 162: Art Bilger, founder & CEO, WorkingNation, and Frank Luntz, president, FIL Incorporated
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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