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No Worker Left Behind

In recent years, a growing chorus of academics and policymakers has been sounding the alarm about technological disruption of the labor market. Millions of jobs could soon be performed by machines, and that means millions of workers will need to be furnished with the skills to pursue new forms of work.

BERKELEY – A week rarely goes by without a new dystopian prediction about technologically driven mass unemployment. As artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic technologies advance faster than even their own developers expected, studies are finding that many of the tasks and occupations that employ people can already be automated.

Estimates of the share of automatable employment vary widely, from 14% of all jobs in OECD countries to nearly 50% of all jobs in the US. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, 9-32% of the workforce in developed economies could be displaced within the next decade.

Across all countries, low-skilled occupations that require less formal education will be the most susceptible to automation, whereas jobs requiring professional training and/or tertiary education will be less threatened, at least for now. Either way, we urgently need to start furnishing workers with new skills to meet future labor-market demands.

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