What happens when Uber drives itself?

Automated cars will replace drivers. Soon.

327,000 drivers

The last estimated number of active Uber drivers according to Business Insider in October of 2015.

$5.6 billion

The estimated total payments Uber drivers receive annually. About $17K per driver. (Based on an estimate from VentureBeat)

1/3

Approximate proportion of a driver’s income Uber represents in the U.S.

What happens when these cars drive themselves?

I know what you are thinking. That is not going to happen any time soon, right?

To the contrary — Tesla is advancing its autopilot technology. Google, Jaguar, BMW, Volvo, and over 30 companies are working on self driving cars. Uber is already testing self driving cars with Tesla(and Volvo). Lyft will have self driving cars with General Motors on the road by May of 2017 (WSJ). But…

Automated taxi driving is only the beginning.

Driving occupations (bus, light truck, and heavy truck driving) represent about 3.1% of the U.S. workforce and 2.1% of wages brought home by workers. In total…

3.9 million jobs and $148 billion in wages earned annually are at risk of disappearing

(HUFF, BLS).

What will happen when these jobs are eliminated?

While many are distracted by safety concerns of self-driving cars, technology will continue to improve. The real issue that is not being addressed is how the advancement of technology will affect people’s lives and prosperity.

To be clear, I am not advocating against self-driving vehicles.

Self-driving vehicles will be one of the best advancements of our time.

Among the many benefits, self-driving cars will make roads safer (saving millions of lives due to reduced traffic accidents), reduce road congestion, improve fuel efficiency, reduce the need for traffic enforcement, and improve mobility for the elderly and the disabled.

The question I am posing is…

How can we better enable workers to be competitive in an evolving economy?

We need better methods of training and re-training as ‘self-driving cars’ and other emerging technologies like robots and artificial intelligence displace workers. One method is providing affordable pathways for workers to train and obtain the skills needed for today’s jobs,

But our current system for training and skill-building is broken.

College is the main ‘skill building solution’, but 83% of Americans say they can’t afford going back to school. Looking specifically at drivers, a portion have children, parents, and other relatives they are financially supporting. They need inexpensive and flexible options given their lives’ demands.

A large portion of drivers, 72%, already have a degree or certification. For others driving is a second job. Most programs are designed to be full-time, ranging from 2–4 years and are not meant to address the incremental training needs to complement the skills workers already have.

Entrepreneur: Who exactly are Uber drivers?

We need better, more flexible, and less expensive options for individuals to train, re-train, and find work — without going into debt…and this needs to happen quickly or else millions will be left out of work without a clear pathway to employment.

Free and low cost alternatives are being developed for learners to develop new skills, but few deliver the community and connections the current in-person college and university experience provides. That is exactly why we are building our start-up, ALEX, which stands for Anyone’s Learning Experience. ALEX is a marketplace for individuals to take college and university courses, one at a time, as people can afford them and as they are relevant to individuals careers. We are re-imagining the future of workforce development and higher education.

While the ‘traditional’ education system is not designed to be flexible, adaptable, and immediately job relevant, it can be. There are excellent learning experiences ‘bundled up’ within degree programs. We at ALEX, Anyone’s Learning Experience, are attempting to solve the ‘skill-gap’ problem by allowing each person to take the exact training they need when they need it.

We enable users to invest in the learning they desire and are empowering the workforce to control their own careers by creating a platform where they can go to build the relevant network and skills to adapt with the shifting job market.

By Sergio Marrero

Co-founder, ALEX, Anyone’s Learning Experience

LIKE US and sign up for our newsletter to bring ALEX to your city.

Related article: Is Uber's push for self-driving cars a job killer?