An optimistic report on ways to harness the power of the digital age to create jobs for Americans.
In this rich compendium of information on new tools “to rework America, to rebuild the American dream,” a bevy of business, technology, and other experts convened by the Markle Foundation explains that the same modern forces that have erased so many American jobs—technological leaps and globalization—can become the basis for a vast expansion of work opportunities. Data and analytics can help develop new jobs, and the Internet can better match employers and middle-skill workers. Novel ways can be found to categorize and credential talent for an increasingly “no-collar” world. Much of the book focuses on the need to overcome old mindsets and habits that dominate the world of work. Online connections are now making possible an explosive growth in commerce, say participants in the “Rework America” initiative. For example, a Brooklyn-based woman now transmits designs digitally to a shoe store in China, which custom-makes shoes with a 3-D printer. As better online platforms are developed, more American sellers will be able to reach foreign buyers. At home, an outdated labor market system fails to match employers and workers when it comes to fast-changing skills and job categories. Too often, companies engage in up-credentialing, requiring college-level skills for jobs, such as entry-level IT positions, that do not require them. On the other hand, college dropouts get little credit for the college work they have completed. Taking a more nuanced view of skill-to-job matching can generate many more needed middle-skills workers, an area expected to be the largest part of all future job growth. Other topics include the need to anticipate new kinds of training needs and find better methods for sharing data.
Policymakers will welcome this practical guide to overcoming “cultural hangovers” and allowing more Americans to participate in the benefits of our networked era.