What We Learned About the Future of Work from 4,000 Workers in New Jersey
The following is excerpted from Your Future of Work: What the New Jersey Future of Work Task Force learned from 4,000 workers in the Garden State. You can read the full report here, which provides extended details on our learnings and insights.
The Future of Work Task Force, charged with understanding how coming changes in technology will impact New Jerseyans at work, is responsible for producing a comprehensive policy roadmap to prepare Garden State workers and businesses.
In order to better understand the issues facing workers and businesses, the Task Force created a digital public engagement campaign, entitled “Your Future of Work,” asking the public to share their greatest concerns with regard to the impact of new technology on three policy areas: lifelong learning and skills, rights and benefits for workers, and workplace health and safety.
Over three weeks in early 2020, the New Jersey Future of Work Task Force, with the help of 40 advocacy and interest groups around the state, asked New Jersey’s workers and employees for their views on the impact of technology on the future of work. Over 4,000 workers shared their greatest concerns.
Workers told us that:
+ Workers’ greatest concerns related to Skills and Lifelong Learning are a lack of access to affordable training, a skills mismatch between the skills that training courses and university degree programs cover and those that employers desire, and an inability to develop the skills of the future due to job market uncertainty.
+ Respondents felt that employers and educational institutions are failing to provide workers — particularly low-income workers — with the skills needed to remain competitive in the workforce.
+ Workers are struggling to find long-term, formal employment in jobs that provide good wages and benefits, leaving many to take part-time positions or contracting jobs.
+ Respondents singled-out rising costs of living, high out of pocket costs for medical care, reduced employment benefits, and a lack of full-time jobs as they key challenges related in obtaining fair wages and benefits.
+ Workers feel they lack a voice in determining what data is collected about them and how it is used.
+ Respondents identified privacy concerns, a negative work-life balance, the blurring of home-life boundaries, and the threat of discrimination as key impacts of technology and on their health and well-being.
Their ideas have informed the work of the Task Force. We are exploring a series of policy and technology proposals, among them:
- Tools to make training opportunities more searchable and as well as assessments of their value
- Portable lifelong learning accounts to make training more affordable.
- A worker training tax credit and/or on the job training programs to encourage employers to invest in training.
- An online coaching platform to make it easier for people to find or change careers.
- Expanding the definition of “employee” to give more people access to benefits.
- Portable benefits policy to give more workers access to more benefits.
- Creating a Future of Work Accelerator to invest in the creation of innovative tools to advance economic security, protect workers rights, health, and safety, and expand access to benefits.
- Policy and education to prohibit the use of discriminatory technology in the workplace.