Brookings Study: Digitalization's Impact on U.S. Workforce

Yesterday we wrote about digitalization influencing future jobs, but even the current state of the digital workforce is a significant change from 10, 15, 20 years ago. A recent report, “Digitalization and the American workforce,” by Brookings Institute explores how digitalization has influenced nearly every industry and workforce in the past decade, not just startups and software-focused jobs.

517 of the 545 occupations covering 90 percent of the workforce have seen increased digitization since 2001. The study tracks the impacts of change by categorizing jobs as requiring high, medium, or low digital skills. Since 2002, jobs requiring high digital skills have jumped from 5 to 23 percent, and jobs requiring low digital skills fell from 56 to 30 percent.

Not surprisingly, training and education resources have been funneled mostly to metropolitan areas where high-skill jobs with high wages are concentrated. This has left other parts of the country lagging to achieve basic digital literacy across individuals, companies, and industries -- a skillset that has essentially become a prerequisite to compete in the workforce. The report authors recommend expanding digital literacy programs with a focus on underrepresented groups and broadening the high-skill IT and tech talent pipeline. I invite you to further explore their recommendations starting on page 38.

Software is impacting the way we work at a rapid pace. Startups and developers create innovations and tools to help industries adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape and more efficiently serve customers, clients, patients, employees, and other audiences.

Although coding isn’t at the heart of every industry, it’s essential for employees to understand the basics of a digital dialogue. Because, in the end, it is software that will power industries forward during this technology revolution.


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Rachel Emeis
Director, US Innovators Policy Council