Dancing with Robots: Human Skills for Computerized Work (2013)

This paper is part of a series looking at the economic trends that will shape policy over the coming decades in the United States.

The authors suggest that the loss of middle-class jobs in America has as much to do with the technology revolution and the computerization of tasks as it does with global pressure from countries like China. They predict that in the future, the human labour market will centre on solving unstructured problems, working with new information, and carrying out non-routine manual tasks. The rest will be done by computers and low-wage workers abroad.

Most Americans will need to acquire new knowledge and skills over their work lives in order to earn a good living in a changing work world. In this context, the nation’s challenge is to sharply increase the fraction of American children with the foundational skills needed to develop job-relevant knowledge and to learn efficiently over a lifetime.

Meeting the challenge would address multiple problems, the authors say. Throughout much of the 20th century, successive generations of Americans had substantially higher educational attainments, and rapidly rising education levels were an important contributor to national economic growth.

Since the mid-1970s, and despite the high rate of return to schooling, the educational attainments of successive generations have grown much more slowly. A serious commitment to dramatically increasing the percentage of American youth who master today’s foundational skills would begin to address this problem, and would also increase the potential for upward economic mobility among children growing up in low-income families.

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2013-11-28
APA citation
Frank Levy and Richard Murnane. Dancing with Robots: Human Skills for Computerized Work 2013. Web. 22 Jan. 2021 <http://en.copian.ca/library/research/third_way/dancing_with_robots/dancing_with_robots.pdf>
Frank Levy & Richard Murnane (2013). Dancing with Robots: Human Skills for Computerized Work. Retrieved January 22, 2021, from http://en.copian.ca/library/research/third_way/dancing_with_robots/dancing_with_robots.pdf
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