future workforce

It’s predicted millions of U.S. workers will have to find a different job by 2030.

An unstoppable shift in the workforce will occur not only in Colorado but worldwide, said Josh Davies, CEO of The Center for Work Ethic Development in Denver.

“What we have to do is figure out how we’re going to evolve,” he said. “We have to make sure we can make the most out of the current workforce in the future.”

Davies will speak about the impacts of coming changes during the Pikes Peak Workforce Center’s annual State of the Workforce event, 8-9:30 a.m. Jan. 16 at the Doubletree Hotel, 1775 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd.

“It’s about how we prepare our workforce today to be ready for jobs that are available now,” he said, “but also for the changing nature of work and the types of jobs that will be available in the future.”

Two main contributors expected to impact the workforce going forward are automation and artificial intelligence, Davies said.

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“They are going to be radical forces that are going to reshape the workplace,” he said.

During the next 11 years, the rise of automation could push up to 70 million U.S. workers to look for new work, according to a study by the consultant company McKinsey & Company.

And technology, to include artificial intelligence, could replace the jobs of 375 million people worldwide by 2030, the study said.

However, Davies said the bigger issue will be when the two types of technology merge.

“The challenge with automation combined with AI is you’re not looking at just jobs going away in manufacturing, or in places where it’s physical jobs,” he said. “What you’re starting to see is more and more jobs that are routine that require mental capacity go away, like an accountant, auditor or jobs that require data analysis.”

The need for administrative assistants, such as secretaries and paralegals, will decrease by 20 percent in 2030, according to the McKinsey study.

The key to preparing for the future is focusing on what employee skills are necessary for jobs today, but also will be able to be used 10 years from now, Davies said.

“What we can do is prepare people for jobs in 2019, but then also make sure those same skills are applicable to jobs that we know will be available in the future,” he said. “Unfortunately, not a ton of folks are really moving entirely in that direction yet.”

Traci Marques, executive director of the Pikes Peak Workforce Center, said she’s heard of a trucking company overseas preparing its staff for the implementation of AI.

“I believe it was somewhere in France they are going to retrain the people who manually load the trucks to operate the artificial intelligence that will be doing it,” she said. “Now, instead of them physically doing it, they’re going to use their previous knowledge of loading and the computer software to do it.”

The presentation will benefit anyone who plans on being part of the workforce in 2030, Davies said.

“We talk with educators, workforce professionals, HR leaders and business leaders about this,” he said. “There’s not a single person who hears the message that has been like, ‘Well, that’s not important to me.’ Because really, when you think about it, we’re all going to be a part of this.

“And regardless if you’re in it to develop people for your company or just concerned about yourself, there’s something all of us can take away.”

People can either be afraid of what the future holds for the workforce or prepare for it, Davies said.

“What I love about the Pikes Peak Workforce Center is they are really working to help people get prepared and not just scared,” he said.

It’s about helping employers and employees create “realistic expectations” for the future, Marques said.

“Think about elevator operators. They don’t really exist anymore, but in the early 1900s, that was a great job,” she said. “We need to start talking about what jobs are going to go away and what skills those employees have that can be transferred.”

The event also will include a presentation of the PPWFC’s annual report in addition to information about its collaborations to address workforce issues.

“With all that, we will kind of go into the different ways we can help businesses with their workforce-related issues,” Marques said. “It’s going to be a lot of great information and a really great event.”

Visit ppwfc.org for more information.