In the age of automation, technology will be essential to reskilling the workforce

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Employees sort parcels with automated guided vehicles (AGVs) at a logistic centre of a postal service in China last November.

Manufacturing as we know it isn’t quite dead – but it will be soon. We’re at the cusp of a major transformation where the classic factory worker’s tasks will soon be digitized and managed by robots and intelligent software.

Human jobs have been sacrificed through every major industrial revolution and this change will be no different. Unfortunately, the speed at which this next displacement is taking place exceeds the speed at which people are being retrained for the new factory roles that are now required. In this environment, technology companies will have new responsibilities to reskill their workforce and the workforces impacted by their products.

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Almost 80% of US workers live from paycheck to paycheck. Here’s why

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America doesn’t have a jobs crisis. It has a ‘good jobs’ crisis – where too much employment is insecure, and poorly paid.

The official rate of unemployment in America has plunged to a remarkably low 3.8%. The Federal Reserve forecasts that the unemployment rate will reach 3.5% by the end of the year.

But the official rate hides more troubling realities: legions of college grads overqualified for their jobs, a growing number of contract workers with no job security, and an army of part-time workers desperate for full-time jobs. Almost 80% of Americans say they live from paycheck to paycheck, many not knowing how big their next one will be.

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Seeking a roadmap for the new American Middle Class

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Over the past few months, Starbucks, CVS, and Walmart announced higher wages and a range of other benefits like paid parental leave and stock options. Despite what the brands say in their press releases, the changes probably had little to do with the Republican corporate tax cuts, but they do reflect a broader economic prosperity, complete with a tightening a labor market. In the past couple of years, real wages hit their highest levels ever, and even the lowest-paid workers started getting raises. As Matt Yglesias wrote at Vox, “for the first time in a long time, the underlying labor market is really healthy.”

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World must adjust to end of cheap labor in China

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“China’s evaporating cheap labor pool will disrupt supply chains and consumption habits around the world.”

Shaun Rein takes a hard look at the economic colossus in The End of Cheap China. Rein is managing director of China Market Research Group, a strategic market intelligence firm with clients like Apple, DuPont and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

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Americans Pessimistic About Income Growth

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Americans tighten belts as they are squeezed by rising prices and stagnant wages.

Consumers are being squeezed on both sides by wages that aren’t increasing and rising prices.  According to survey data by Goldman Sachs, the number of people who believe they will bring home more money one year from now is at its lowest in 25 years.

 

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200 Million Chinese Workers in Danger of Occupational Disease

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Health officer talks to factory workers.

The biggest danger to Chinese workers is not workplace accidents, but occupational disease.  There are potentially 200 million workers in China that are under the threat of contracting an occupational disease according to a senior trade union official.

 

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