March 03, 2017
Last week's Conservative Political Action Conference featured a session titled "Innovation and the Future of Work" led by HR Policy Foundation Senior Advisor Jaime Fall, who also serves as Director of UpSkill America at the Aspen Institute. Fall was joined by Laurie Self, Vice President and Counsel of Government Affairs at Qualcomm Incorporated, in looking at how technology companies are driving innovation and change in the workplace which is changing the nature of many jobs. "Though the rapid advancement of technology is providing unparalleled opportunities for a class of entrepreneurs, the wealth divide is leading to a growing number of low wage workers struggling to survive financially. Many state legislatures are struggling to define the roles of individuals, corporations, the education system, and government in light of this economic disparity," said Fall. Statistically, only about two-thirds of working-age adults have jobs, with one-third of working age adults being out of the workforce—the lowest percentage of working adults in nearly four decades. Additionally, with over 40 percent of jobs now pay less than $15 an hour, resulting in more than 1 in 5 working adults having earnings that would not lift them above the poverty line even if they were to work full-time, year-round. In discussing the role of businesses in helping workers succeed, Fall cited the $600 billion employers reportedly spend on formal and informal education and training each year to ensure their workers have the skills they need to succeed in the workplace including apprenticeship programs, high school completion programs, short-term skill development certification programs and college degree programs.