Giving Compass' Take:

• The author discusses the role of philanthropy in helping transitioning workers adjust as the workforce becomes more automated. 

• What programs already exist for transitional workers? How can philanthropists collaborate with existing employers to strengthen workforce development programs? 

• Read more about what the future of work means for schools specifically. 

Automation has been transforming work since the industrial revolution. The latest wave of automation technologies—spurred by increases in computing power, advances in robotics, and the rise of artificial intelligence—touches new realms of work and may change the world as we know it.

Meanwhile, a recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) called “Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained” suggests that while automation technologies will continue to lift global productivity and economic growth, they will also cause significant disruptions to labor markets as workers need to transition to new jobs with different skills.

Philanthropists have an opportunity to improve the outcomes of this transition by increasing the overall level of giving to support workers navigating these transitions and by creatively leveraging the very technologies causing this change to help fix some of its problematic side effects.

Automation of work activities poses a global challenge, but its effects will be most pronounced in advanced economies. Here, we focus on the United States, as it is one of the largest advanced economies, will be significantly affected by uptake of automation technologies, and has the most-sophisticated and well-funded philanthropic sector.

The philanthropic sector, however—unhampered by quarterly earnings calls or the voting cycle—can be independent, take a long-term view, and risk using innovative new approaches that might fail. And while so far efforts to support workers dealing with automation have been limited in scope and don’t yet have proof of outcomes, it is becoming apparent how philanthropy can step up. Specifically, we see four areas where it could make a difference.

  1. Reskilling the workforce.
  2. Improving labor market dynamism.
  3. Testing policy solutions to support transitioning workers. 
  4. Experimenting with education.

Read the full article about how philanthropy will help the future of work by James Manyika, Manisha Shetty Gulati, & Emma Dorn at Stanford Social Innovation Review