Dec 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

1. First things first: America’s changing job market

A laptop with two people on it:'s Andrew Dunckelman and the Markle Foundation's Beth Cobert.

COVID-19 has caused the future of work to arrive years earlier than expected, a fact that could leave many of America’s workers jobless.

The reason: The nature of work is becoming more digitized—something we saw even before the pandemic—and many in the U.S. labor force aren’t yet equipped to succeed in a job market that demands a new set of skills.

Key numbers:

  • Thirteen million jobs have been added in the country since 2013, but nearly two-thirds require at least a medium proficiency in digital skills, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
  • And the employees who are most at risk, as evidenced by the pandemic, are workers with less than a college degree, a group that makes up about 70% of the country’s workforce, according Beth Cobert, CEO at Skillful and COO at the Markle Foundation.

The solution: Event participants nearly unanimously agreed that two major things could help the U.S. turn this trend around:

  • Expanding access to critical technologies, such as wifi access or 5G, to places that lack access.
  • Helping Americans develop the digital skills they need – with or without a degree – to land good-paying, fast-growing jobs. This includes teaching individuals basic digital skills, providing pathways to career mobility through digital tools like Google’s free career certificates, and increasing the number of public-private partnerships that help people prepare for the future of work.

What Google is saying:

“We've invested big in the Google IT Support Certificate. There are other Google career certificates coming out that help people move into these high growth, good-paying jobs with less than a college degree. It's not the only solution, but I think it's one thing we're really excited about. It could offer a pathway for similar employers.”

– Andrew Dunckelman, Head of Impact and Insights,

The takeaway: When combined, greater access to technology and digital skills can help Americans economically recover from the pandemic and quickly adjust to the changing economy.

Go deeper