04 January, 2020

Worker Voices: Technology and the Future for Workers

For many workers, the future is already here. Food, retail, and grocery workers have witnessed rapid change in recent years, especially in the front end of their stores. Most feel they lack a voice in these changes and feel pessimistic about the future for humans in their stores. Advancing technological change is not occurring in a vacuum, but rather in a time of increasing economic precarity and inequality; unequal care and domestic burdens; and the rootedness, responsibilities, and stories of workers’ lives. Low pay and economic insecurity sharply limit workers’ ability to prepare for—and access—a better future of work, and women face many barriers. Workers are thinking about, and responding to the possibilities of a technologically enabled and dehumanized future in the context of their current situations. The current educational and workforce systems make career transitions extremely difficult, and workers often have trouble acquiring the skills and credentials they desire. Policymakers will improve the odds of building effective programs by paying attention to the wider human context and by addressing the needs of a greater diversity of workers who will shoulder the greatest burden of the change.