We asked our WorkingNation Advisory Board to share their thoughts on the most important issues and challenges facing the workforce and the labor market in the coming year.
Here are his thoughts on The Future of Work 2023.
“The intense interest being sparked by ChatGPT – an AI chatbot system released by OpenAI in November – in the media should be sounding alarm bells for many in the workforce. It has made the threat of AI suddenly real. Creatives are next on the line, as are all those jobs that serve as an interface between humans and systems.
Technology continues to shrink the number of meaningful jobs while increasing the pool of humans seeking the remaining jobs. ChatGPT is not the first or the best of the artificial intelligence software out there, but it is good. Not only text, but now images, are generated by AI from simple text requests, so illustrator jobs are also at risk. Personalized appeals become trivial. Among the next to go are software developers as AI is getting skilled at generating actual code.
This was the underlying fear that motivated WorkingNation in the first place and, if nothing else, the pace of change and disruption is increasing. Recessions always spur cost-cutting initiatives. Technology seldom eliminates whole jobs. It just erodes them, and then economic pressures lead organizations to consolidate positions, so jobs disappear. Many of these workers will just leave the workforce, correctly seeing that they have few prospects for meaningful work. Are we making progress on this? No.
There is blind faith in training, but training cannot provide innate skills and talents. Our brains develop over time and at various times, and there is no known process for redoing it later. Education focuses on what is taught, but what matters is what is learned. Universities have tenured faculty that are obsolete, teaching skills that are also obsolete. The rate at which our workforce is becoming obsolete is frightening. The great new clean energy jobs we anticipate are not the same jobs as are going away, and we may not have the skills distribution we need. Not everyone can be a brilliant software designer.
The most successful fiscal policy in our history was the Investment Tax Credit enacted under John F. Kennedy and conceived by the Nobel-prize-winning economist James Tobin, as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. Government cannot and will not solve this problem, but markets can.
We need a sustainable jobs tax credit that rewards businesses for creating new, permanent positions. This is not simple, because job gains need to be long term and not created by a layoff. However, it can be done.”