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July 22 2013

Employment Sustainability and Technology, the conversation continues

Cornell's ILR 2013 Employment and Technology Roundtable is the foundation of Frank Koller's article "Should we fear 'the end of work'?" On the PBS NewsHour: The Business Desk with Paul Solman [URL: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/businessdesk/2013/07/should-we-fear-the-end-of-work.html], Koller discusses the future-of-work debate as it took shape on April 12 at the ILR event convened in the New York City by the Institute for Compensation Studies.

Some 40 leading economists, policy makers, engineers, bankers, corporate executives, social scientists, philanthropists, journalists and statisticians came together to engage in an open-minded discussion on the role of technology in the American workplace. Some in attendance expressed concern that technology will be the demise of employment for many Americans, both the unskilled and the highly-educated, as the global economy increasingly runs on higher-productivity technologies and advances in artificial intelligence leap forward.. Others argued the increased use of technology and the slow job recovery are events that dynamic economies like the U.S. can weather.   

Princeton University economist Alan Blinder pointed to the integration of India, China and Russia into the global labor market, rather than technology, as change that reduced the economic returns to labor, but that the decreased returns to labor "is about to end." Corporate social responsibility was also highlighted as being in need of expanding its scope. Some suggested that employers should create more sustainable jobs, take more responsibility for their downsizings and work more closely with the education community if we are to ensure that the next generation of workers has the necessary skills to keep the labor market afloat and the middle class with sufficient purchasing power. Responsibility of was also asked of individuals and higher education. They too must adapt to rapidly changing demands from the marketplace.

Koller, attended and co-facilitated the Cornell's ILR Employment and Technology Roundtable. He is a journalist and the author of "Spark: How Old-Fashioned Values Drive a Twenty-First-Century Corporation: Lessons from Lincoln Electric's Unique Guaranteed Employment Program." [URL to book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ANYHJUC/ref=rdr_ext_tmb#_]

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