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Preparing Today’s Workforce Nation With New Skills for Automation

As we approach the New Year, the question becomes, “How do we reposition our workforce to remain competitive”?  The answer lies in retraining the workforce nation to excel in automation and technology in the 21st century marketplace.  Think about it for a moment… what has happened to work in the past few decades?  Many in the workforce were raised with the ‘jobs for life’ philosophy of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.  These positions required no post-secondary education, no specialized training, or certification, just a high school diploma.  Those days are gone forever!

Then reality hit in the 80’s and 90’s, with automation and technology.  In the manufacturing sector, many jobs that were traditionally performed by people are now automated, with machines replacing factory workers.   This evolution is not just limited to the manufacturing industry.  All industries have been affected by “automation” and “technology”.  As I sit writing this article in Panera Bread on Long Island, NY I can order my food at a kiosk.   McDonald’s just unveiled their touch screen self-service kiosk at various locations throughout the U.S.  These kiosks will replace some cash register positions.   Recently, Amazon announced plans to use automation to displace cashiers.  They plan to open a futuristic grocery store eliminating the human element.

At many of our hospitals robots are now performing minimally invasive surgery.  Today more and more hospitals are using TUG Robots to: transport food, linens, medications, medical waste and garbage.  The need to know how to operate and service these robots creates a wealth of new opportunities for those who stay ahead of the curve and retrain themselves.  Advance technology allows us to check-in at the kiosks  bypassing the customer service agent.   With these advances in technology significant numbers of jobs were eliminated.

It is estimated that by the year 2020, two-thirds of all jobs will require some level of post secondary education.  Today’s manufacturing jobs are more sophisticated than prior decades and are now requiring a more advanced skill-set.   Technology is changing at a rapid pace. There is a significant gap between the demand for skilled workers and the number of jobs that need to be filled.  This shortage in the manufacturing industry is occurring because the demand for skill laborers is greater than the available supply.

Where did all the manufacturing jobs go?  Well, they never left.  Each year many manufacturing jobs go unfilled because the supply of skilled labor is at an all-time low.  We have a responsibility to tackle this problem.  First, businesses need to start investing in workforce learning by offering apprenticeships and on-the-job-training programs.  Investing in these types of training programs will help bridge the gap between high demand and low supply of workers.  Second, individuals need to change their mind-sets and they must understand the jobs and skills of yesterday are outdated and obsolete.  If you want to continue working you must update your skills to meet the 21st century demand.  Today’s workforce must take responsibility to broaden their horizons through the power of learning, retooling, and retraining!

Dr. Corinthia Price is the CEO and Founder of Workforce Career Readiness®. Workforce Career Readiness® mission is to ensure that businesses and organizations have a competent workforce equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in a 21st century marketplace.