Like its predecessors, Workforce 2000 and Workforce 2020, Workforce 2040 will examine demographic trends, including: the make-up of the population over the next two decades; the nature of work and influence of technology advancements; and the impact of globalization on jobs. Most importantly, we will craft several potential scenarios and accompanying strategies that can help our state (and our neighboring states) to survive and even thrive in those coming changes.
It is a bold goal; but we have actually done it before – with success. Workforce 2020 projected much of what we are experiencing today, trends that were accelerated by the global pandemic (something that we did not project in Workforce 2020). First, the rising and rapid pace of technology causing massive disruption of certain sectors – simultaneously creating exciting new jobs while displacing others and changing the nature of work. The rise of what we then called “free agency” in employment options, and the retirements of millions of baby boomers causing massive and severe labor shortages. It also foreshadowed particularly adverse effects on men in the labor force, as well as income disparities among various population groups that we predicted would occur unless significant improvements were made in America’s education and workforce development systems.
Unfortunately, as we are learning, America did not sufficiently prepare for these realities; and the projections that the authors of Workforce 2020 made in 1997 are proving true. The unexpected pandemic has certainly exacerbated our challenges. But even before that surprising development, we were witnessing an incremental approach and resulting trends that Workforce 2020 had predicted.