Fears are mounting that technology will automate and displace jobs on a scale never before seen. At the same time, despite its clear benefits, free trade does lead to the displacement of some individuals’ jobs.
As a recent Harvard Business Review piece titled “What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class” that was written to explain the rise of President-elect Trump noted, “One key message is that trade deals are far more expensive than we’ve treated them, because sustained job development and training programs need to be counted as part of their costs.” The same is true for the continued development and spread of new technologies.
To tackle the specter of mass technological unemployment, we need to lower the cost for adults of getting more education and training. That may require not just financing adult learners’ educations, seeding innovative and more affordable learning models, and covering training when someone loses her job because of trade, but also paying for adults’ living expenses as they learn and retool.