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The augmented American worker

ImpactAlpha, July 6 – Between an aging population, low-rate of workforce participation and high rate of employment, employers in the U.S. are starting to hit a hiring wall: they’re struggling to find enough qualified workers to meet demand.

At the same time, millions of jobs are unfilled and although many employers are investing more in workforce training and skills development, many large employers haven’t done enough to ensure they have the right skills to fill future jobs.

“We’ll need entrepreneurs to help lead the way in finding ways to prepare the workforce of the future,” says Village Capital’s Allie Burns.

  • Working for the workers… Village Capital is gearing up for its new U.S. education-focused cohort, which will back startups helping adults bridge the gap between jobs and skills. Meanwhile, The Graide Network and PAIRIN are focusing on the current and future workforces’ “soft skills” development; non-traditional educational institutions like Penn Foster are offering career training and credentials; organizations like Jewish Vocational Services and startups like La Cocina and Greyston Bakery are focusing on training and up-skilling often-overlooked groups, like immigrants and the formerly incarcerated.
  • Augmenting rather than replacing… Other startups see artificial intelligence and automation as tools for improving—rather than replacing—human capacity and productivity. Diligent Robotics is building a robot that will free up nurses time to care for patients by handling time-consuming administrative tasks.
    (Robotics developers in Japan and China are also developing “care bots” to serve their aging populations.) Education startups like ThinkCERCA are creating tools, like literacy platforms, to help teachers better serve individual students.

Teaching adaptability may ultimately be most critical for preparing future workers for work of the future. This includes cultivating curiosity, creativity, and empathy.

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