New Report: Human Skills for Computerized Work

In 2005, Professors Frank Levy and Richard J. Murnane, published the ground-breaking book The New Division of Labor: How Computers are Creating the New Job Market. The book documented how information and communications technology (ICT) have altered the demand for skills over a 30-year time period. They found certain tasks such as thinking, problem solving and complex communications were increasingly taking up a larger role in the workplace, while routine cognitive and manual tasks were diminishing. Levy and Murnane’s work provided a framework for Essential Skills Ontario’s analysis on the changing nature of entry level employment discussed in Menial No More: Advancing our Workforce through Digital Skills. Furthermore, their understanding of the new dimensions work is reflected in the upcoming PIAAC survey which considers the cognitive dimensions of problem solving in technology-rich environments.

Levy and Murane have updated their previous work in the recent Third Way paper, Dancing with Robots: Human Skills for Computerized Work. The paper also explores larger employment and economic implications with a call for revitalization in what is considered foundational skills. Levy and Murnane argue that computers do a number of things very well and at a very inexpensive cost. In particular, they are extremely good at tasks that can be organized into a set of rules-based routines. They describe the kind of work tasks that are now, or will be, automated and note that computers are still not very good at certain kinds of tasks. They place these into three categories: solving unstructured problems, working with new information, and carrying out non-routine manual tasks. The paper describes the kind of work tasks that are currently, or will increasingly be, automated. While the paper primarily focuses on how foundational skills should be redefined and taught for children, there are clear implications for how we design, teach and prepare adults for both the jobs of today and the future.

To read Dancing with Robots: Human Skills for Computerized Work, please click here.

News Date: 
Friday, August 2, 2013