MIT President L. Rafael Reif: “Transformative automation is coming. The impact is up to us.” | MIT J-WEL

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MIT President L. Rafael Reif: “Transformative automation is coming. The impact is up to us.”

In a recent op-ed piece in the Boston Globe, MIT President L. Rafael Reif discussed the coming impacts of automation on the workforce of the future and possible approaches to managing the disruption automation may bring. From the article:

Technology itself offers one path to a solution: In fields from robotics and cybersecurity to supply chain management, many universities, including MIT, are pioneering “MicroMasters” and other online credentialing programs to provide top-quality, industry-relevant skills, in a form recognized by leading employers, at a fraction of the price of traditional higher education. For people with industry expertise who need to become proficient in digital or problem-solving skills, including teachers seeking to prepare their students for the future, an answer could be “continuous uptraining,” a system that would allow every employee to devote significant time — every week, every month, or every year — to acquiring fresh skills. If educational institutions, employers, and employees imagine and refine a solution together, continuous uptraining could become a crucial tool to help individuals adapt to relentless change.

Reinventing the future of work needs to be a whole-society effort — and finding long-term solutions will require ideas and initiative from every quarter. Could educators make sure that every graduate is computationally literate? Could institutions like MIT do better at guiding students to balance efficiency with other human values in choosing the problems they work on and how they design solutions? Could workers help develop automating technologies, to create complementary machines that make humans more effective and efficient instead of obsolete? Could corporations use some profits achieved through automation to invest in developing those whose jobs automation has erased? Could unions help shape more relevant and accessible apprenticeship and uptraining programs? Could government develop educational incentives that would motivate firms to locate in hard-hit regions? I believe the answer to all those questions can and should be yes — and I’m certain we need many more and better ideas, too. Read more.

The Workplace Learning Collaborative at J-WEL is a forum for exploring these and other solutions to the challenges faced by today’s companies and their workers. Visit the collaborative’s web page or contact us to learn more about how your company can become involved in the Workplace Learning @ J-WEL Collaborative.