Black Workers, News

Report: the changing workplace presents both an opportunity and a risk for blacks


By Frederick H. Lowe

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington D.C.-based think tank for black-elected officials, recently released a report about the future of work and how it will affect African Americans. It’s  both a study and a warning that urges blacks to prepare for major changes in the workplace.

The study titled “The Future of Work” reports on how automation, artificial intelligence and data analytics are changing and will continue to change American workplace.

“Grocery stores are installing self-checkout lanes. Manufacturing plants are increasingly using industrial robots. Driverless trucks and cars will soon be commonplace,” the Joint Center said. The report notes that be 2034, 47 percent of jobs are at a high risk of being automated.

How these changes will affect the black community is a major concern.

Driverless vehicles, for example, are being hailed by gerontologists because they will provide a service to the elderly who no longer are physically capable of driving. America’s workforce is rapidly aging.

At the IGAA World Congress of Gerontology & Geriatrics, which was recently held in San Francisco, experts participated in a panel discussion titled “Autonomous Vehicle: The Next Stage of Independence.”  Jessica Nigro, who is with Daimler North America, was one the panelists. Daimler, which owns Mercedes Benz cars and Freightliner Trucks, is testing driverless cars and trucks.

Autonomous vehicles are predicted to cause a sharp loss of high-paying jobs held by African Americans, such as bus, taxi, delivery and long-distance truck drivers, according to reports published by Demos, a New York-based public policy organization and the Center for Global Policy Solutions, which is based in Washington, D.C.

The Center for Global Policy Solutions reported in its study titled “Stick Shift:  Autonomous Vehicles, Driving Jobs, and the Future of Work,” the expected use of driverless vehicles will hit hard African-American workers because 4.23 percent or 653,000 blacks rely on driving jobs.

The Joint Center asks readers how they can mitigate challenges like job loss, and how workers can acquire “new economy” skills and jobs?

The report also asks how black entrepreneurs can take advantage of these changes to transform their cities by harnessing  innovation.


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