As technology and global competition reshape the work landscape, too many new jobs are low-wage, with few benefits or possibilities for advancement.
This should be a great time to look for work in the United States. The official unemployment rate has fallen below four percent for the first time since July of 2001. More companies are offering hiring bonuses to attract workers, and the retirement of baby boomers is opening more jobs for young adults.
However, the numbers are not as rosy as they look. While jobs are plentiful, good jobs are increasingly hard to find, especially for those without access to higher education. As technology and global competition continue to reshape the work landscape, too many of the new jobs are low-wage, with few benefits or possibilities for advancement, while the better jobs require education and skills that remain beyond the reach of way too many Americans.
In our new Council on Foreign Relations Task Force report, The Work Ahead, we offer recommendations regarding how business, educators, and governments can ensure that Americans are prepared for the better-paying jobs of the new global knowledge economy. The Task Force was co-chaired by former Michigan governor John Engler and former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. In the report, we argue that rebuilding the pathway from education to opportunity in the face of accelerating technological change is the critical challenge of our time.
We live in an age of great disruption. It was not that long ago that Americans could go into factories and offices with relatively little education, doing mostly repetitive tasks, and be able to earn a good wage that gave them the opportunity to buy a home, have a couple of cars, put their children through school, and retire with a decent pension.
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