What Will the Fate of Jobs Be In This Digital Era?

Nov 1, 2018 BY Elizabeth Hyman
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There was a writer and influencer of architecture in the late 19th century, John Ruskin, who became well-known, among other things, for his critiques and insights on the industrial revolution. In particular, he was concerned about the fate of the worker, as he witnessed the machine taking the place of the draftsman.  Time and adaptation proved that the mechanization of the industrial revolution, while at times deeply unsettling, unleashed new forms of work and creativity and satisfaction. 

Today we are at a similar crossroads.  We are witnessing a new and accelerating digital era and we wonder what the fate of jobs will be as we currently know them.  While we may not have a clear vision of what the future holds, Ruskin had some words of wisdom that may offer some comfort as we move forward: “the highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it.”  He articulated an ethic that suggests that we are all ennobled by work – and that may be the most powerful influencer of how we move forward in the burgeoning era of automation and artificial intelligence. 

CompTIA has long been on the side of men and women, young and old, that see technology as a pathway to a meaningful future.  Its mission has been to advance the global IT industry – and to lead that effort through support and focus on the tech professionals who design, implement, manage, and safeguard the technology that powers the world’s economy.  CompTIA’s launch of the Center for Technology & Workforce Solutions (CTWS) is the next step in that commitment.  CTWS seeks to put the worker squarely at the forefront of the conversation about technology and the future.  We can only do that if we understand where innovation is taking us as a society, and how we prepare all of our citizens to meet these developments.

Employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. These occupations are projected to add about 557,100 new jobs.  However, the IT skills gap is only expected to grow over the next five years. The 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study (GISWS) predicts as many as 1.8 million IT jobs could be unfilled by 2022. That’s a 20 percent bump from what the same study revealed two years earlier.  At the forefront of the CTWS mission is to explore why we cannot get more people to claim these jobs  – and then do something about it.

We also know that the demographics of the tech industry does not look like America. While the culture of tech claims to value diversity that is not our reality.  CTWS wants to change that equation. 

And lastly, while there may presently be open tech jobs, many fear that the good paying jobs of today – truck drivers, assembly workers, radiologists – will be eliminated through the coming mechanization of the 21st century.  Like the John Ruskins of this era, we feel uneasy about where our working lives are headed.  CTWS understands that honest work animates our society – and is dedicated to finding solutions that keep faith with this important ethic. 

Across the country policy makers, economists, educators, journalists, entrepreneurs and more are all in a discussion about technology and workforce.  I am heartened that CTWS will bring all of these stakeholders together to define the challenges and then find the solutions. 

Interested to learn more about CTWS, contact us!

Elizabeth Hyman is the Executive Vice President of Public Advocacy at CompTIA.