Several recent pieces of research show that as many as 40% of jobs could be replaced by robots in the next 15 years. The staggering number opens the question of what all of the people put out of work will do. Most Americans believe they should get free educations. It may be the only path to new employment.
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies questioned 2,000 black, Latino, Asian American and white workers in 2018. George Washington University law professor Spencer Overton was the lead researcher. He found, “Our report offers the most in-depth view to date of how communities of color perceive the future of work, providing insights for lawmakers to address long-term challenges and ensure Americans from all backgrounds are prepared to compete in a rapidly evolving economy.”
The results varied by race. 85% of Black Americans “support free college or training as a response to job displacement.” This was followed by 78% of Asian Americans, 75% of Latinos, and 70 of Whites. What do those questioned think is the biggest hurdle to getting a new education? The ability to afford it. “All four groups cited financial constraints as the biggest barrier to obtaining additional training. The least cited barrier was feeling personally incapable of acquiring new skills”, the study said.
The primary argument against these programs is their cost. Taxpayers would likely carry the burden of millions of the Americans who would have to go to school, either in person or online, to improve their skills. Michael Poliakoff, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) told Campus Reform, “‘Free’ college is likely to leave the public with exorbitant bills and very limited return on their investment.”
There is a growing body of evidence that robots will replace jobs, particularly at the bottom of the wage scale. This includes fast-food workers, retail employees, and people who work in factories and warehouses. Many of these are on the list of the 25 lowest paying jobs in America. If they are not retrained, it is hard to imagine where they will find new work. So far, there is no answer as to where the money will come from to solve the problem.