Building America's Skilled Technical Workforce Report Summary

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2017

In response to globalization and advances in science and technology, American firms are seeking workers with greater proficiency in literacy and numeracy, as well as strong interpersonal, technical, and problem-solving skills. However, employer surveys and industry and government reports have raised concerns that the nation may not have an adequate supply of skilled technical workers to achieve its competitiveness and economic growth objectives. This report summary outlines policies and describes educational programs that prepare Americans for skilled technical jobs and also provides recommendations for improving the American system of technical education, training, and certification.

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It's Learning, Just Not as We Know It (Bridging the Skills Gap in the Future Workforce)

Accenture and the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance, 2018

The authors' premise is that employers face a global skills crisis that could hold back the economic promise of intelligent technologies. Well beyond today’s talent shortages, digital innovations will continually and rapidly alter the demand for skills in the future. This report examines the potential of new learning opportunities and offers recommendations for businesses, entrepreneurs and policy makers. Among the recommendations are the calls for: 1) teaching approaches that encourage individuals to develop a range of both technical and innately human skills, like empathy and critical thinking and 2) greater commitment to experience-based skills development, like on-the-job learning and apprenticeships.

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Skill Shift: Automation and the Future of the Workforce

McKinsey Global, 2018

Automation will accelerate the shift in required workforce skills we have seen over the past 15 years.The authors of this discussion paper present new findings on the coming shifts in demand for workforce skills and how work is organized within companies, as people increasingly interact with machines in the workplace. They quantify time spent on 25 core workplace skills today and in the future for the United States and five European countries, with a particular focus on five sectors: banking and insurance, energy and mining, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.

Their research indicates that by 2030 the strongest growth in demand will be for technological skills, which will rise by 55 percent. Demand for social and emotional skills such as leadership and managing others will rise by 24 percent and the demand for higher cognitive skills will grow moderately overall, but will rise sharply for some of these skills, especially creativity.

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Download an article summarizing the McKinsey report, “The 3 Key Skill Sets for the Workers of 2030.”

Information Technology and the U.S. Workforce: Where Are We and Where Do We Go from Here?

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2017

This report from the Committee on Information Technology, Automation, and the U.S. Workforce examines how “advances in fields such as artificial intelligence and robotics are making it increasingly possible for machines to perform not only physical but also cognitive tasks currently performed by humans. While providing short term forecasts for the evolution of specific technologies, the committee encourages researchers to recognize the speed at which change is occurring and anticipate the socio-economic consequences.

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What the Future of Work Will Mean for Jobs, Skills, And Wages

McKinsey Global Institute, December 2017

In this research report, McKinsey Global Institute examines automation and the “rich mosaic of potential shifts in occupations in the years ahead, with important implications for workforce skills and wages.” The report outlines possible changes in the workforce, including the need for retraining of mid-career employees, through 2030.

The full report is available for download but the webpage contains interactive graphics displaying forecast decline by occupation.

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National Science Board, 2018
This annual publication is a great source for statistics about trends in STEM education and the STEM-related and technical economy. The following links are particularly relevant to issues within the Preparing Technicians for the Future of Work project.

Associate’s Degrees in Technology Conferred per 1,000 Individuals 18–24 Years Old

This infographic shows regional and state-by-state differences in attainment of two-year technical degrees among those newly entering the workforce. Technology fields include science and engineering technologies but not medical technologies. The interactive map allows the viewer to compare associate’s degree awards for any year from 2000 – 2016.

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Associate’s Degrees in Science and Engineering Conferred per 1,000 Individuals 18–24 Years Old

Infographic showing regional and state-by-state differences in attainment of two-year science and engineering degrees among those newly entering the workforce. Science and engineering fields include physical, life, earth, ocean, atmospheric, computer, and social sciences; mathematics, engineering, and psychology. They do not include medical fields. The interactive map allows the viewer to compare associate’s degree awards for any year from 2000 – 2016.

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S&E Enterprise in a Global Context: Knowledge- and Technology-Intensive Economic Activity

This section provides graphs illustrating the global rise of knowledge-and-technology intensive industries and commercial knowledge-intensive services from 2003 – 2016. As explained in the report’s glossary, knowledge- and technology-intensive industries include:

  • service industries—financial, business, communications, education, and health care;
  • high-technology manufacturing industries—aerospace; pharmaceuticals; computers and office machinery; semiconductors and communications equipment; and measuring, medical, navigation, optical, and testing instruments; and
  • medium-high-technology industries—motor vehicles and parts, chemicals excluding pharmaceuticals, electrical machinery and appliances, machinery and equipment, and railroad and other transportation equipment.

Commercial knowledge-intensive services are generally privately owned and compete in the marketplace without public support. These services are business, information, and financial services.

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Understanding the Digital Thread (video duration 2:38)

Deloitte Insights, 2017

The “digital thread” connects products from design, through production, testing, use, and maintenance and cycles back to other phases in the product development and lifespan as indicated by diagnostics. These digital connects require massive amount of data to be generated, stored, and shared.

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Achieving Inclusive Growth in the Face of Digital Transformation and the Future of Work

OECD Report to G-20 Finance Ministers, 2018

With shifts toward automation of tasks but greater cognitive skills required, what policies are needed to ensure the success of the workers of the future? This report examines the growth and impact of disruptive technologies on future employment, productivity and incomes and the importance of global interconnectedness.

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Putting Faces to the Jobs at Risk for Automation

OECD Report to G-20 Finance Ministers, 2018

Which workers are most at risk of losing their jobs due to greater automation? This policy brief provides a concise overview about the risks of job automation in OECD countries.

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The Future of Jobs and Jobs Training

Pew Research Center, 2017

Five themes emerge from this study which asked a non-random sample of internet and technology experts (1,408 responses) for their opinions on how education demands will change in response to the increasing use of robots, automation and artificial intelligence in the workplace.

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The Blockchain Revolution, The Power of Positive Disruption (Podcast)

OECD On the Level podcast, 2018

Greg Medcraft, head of the OECD Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs, explains the fundamentals of block chain technology. In Part 1, Medcraft discusses how distributed ledger technology functions through a series of nodes with network protocols for verification of transactions and is the difference between a private permissioned network and a public open network. In Part 2, he describes the three current drivers of blockchain: financial services, supply chain, and government services.

Download the podcast Part 1
Download the podcast Part 2

Nine Technologies Transforming Industrial Production

Boston Consulting Group, 2018

This simple infographic illustrates the digital technologies driving Industry 4.0.

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Learning While Earning: The New Normal 2015

Center on Education and the Workforce, 2015

Anthony Carnevale, et. al., examine the demographics of working learners—both young (ages 16-29) and mature (ages 30+)—and cross references this against their employment and educational choices for a clearer picture of these students. Among the recommendations for policy benefiting all working learners is the implementation of competency-based education and non-credit models of earning credentials.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under NSF DUE #1839567. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.