The American workforce is the heart of U.S. leadership. As the capabilities of the American worker rises and falls, so does U.S. strength and influence. But the success of the American worker cannot be taken for granted. The workforce faces challenges – trade and technology chief among them – that if left unchecked will result in turmoil for working class Americans, but if harnessed can create opportunity across the economy.
CSIS Trade Commission ReportFull Report
Preparing for the Future
A new approach to the U.S. workforce is necessary for Americans to navigate a rapidly changing economy. Companies are investing in new technology that will reshape work, simultaneously improving productivity while leaving the most vulnerable workers exposed to automation and an expanding skills gap.
Covid-19 has accelerated those trends while wreaking havoc on the workforce in the short-term. The scale of disruption that will occur over the next decade has the potential to cause greater fundamental shifts in the labor force than those experienced in the Industrial Revolution or at the beginning of the Information Age, particularly for less educated, lower-wage workers.
The American worker will need to become agile and adaptable, embrace lifelong learning, and have access to the tools not only necessary to succeed but pick themselves up after a job loss.
CSIS Trade Commission Recommendations
The Commission recommends ten elements of a new approach to workforce development in the United States. Together, these recommendations would make the workforce more agile, adaptable, and competitive and put the United States in a position to pursue an ambitious trade agenda.
- Establish federal programs for affordable lifelong learning
- Replace Trade Adjustment Assistance with reformed Unemployment Insurance
- Restore funding to programs that get Americans back to work
- Encourage closer cooperation between education and training institutions, and employers
- Ensure accountability for outcomes
- Provide free online Basic STEM education for adult learners
- Ease the registered apprenticeship process for small and medium-sized enterprises
- Align U.S. immigration policy with workforce demands
- Improve congressional-executive communication when crafting trade policy
- Pass a GI Bill for Jobs that funds upskilling for frontline workers and trains others for work in the "caring economy."