How Will Millions of Americans Adapt to the Revolution in Technology?
For millions of Americans, facing the rapidly changing workforce can be downright terrifying, particularly for those in blue-collar jobs. But "Future Work," a series dedicated to the American skills gap, proves it's easier than ever to connect and train with professionals working in burgeoning industries.
The series was produced by the national non-profit campaign WorkingNation and directed by Academy Award-winner Barbara Kopple.
"Instead of doing a one-off documentary we decided to do a series," "FutureWork" producer Joan Lynch told AlterNet about the project she had been working on for almost two years.
"I thought this would be very dry," she admitted. "But every social impact story is a job story."
One of the 180-plus companies WorkingNation has partnered with is the AmeriCorps-affiliated venture known as the Sustainability Institute. "They're bringing in veterans to rehabilitate these homes through a weatherization program, which takes 6-12 months. They get a certification and go on to be industry leaders," Lynch said.
But there's an integral interpersonal component of the operation.
"They're getting to know people in their community, how to make eye contact and communicate, and the vast majority come out of the program with a certified job," Lynch explained.
"There's still a need for an undergraduate degree in certain areas, but folks need to have on-the-job experience to see how those areas are changing," she added, when asked about trade schools versus traditional colleges.
And outsourcing doesn't just affect stereotypical targets like manufacturing.
"Middle-class families are finding law degrees are being outsourced... it's an emotional journey to going from $150,000 a year to being unemployed," she said of some of her clients.
Fast food and retail jobs have been hit particularly hard in the past decade, and Lynch encourages those who are in the program to pursue fast-growing fields such as healthcare.
"We generally celebrate technology but we do have to be aware of the advancements in automation. Banks...McDonalds... there used to be a person there," she recalled.
With regards to the election, Lynch would have preferred to hear a stronger policy discussion on creating or bringing jobs back.
"The angst that came from both sides is jobs, which wasn't really addressed in the debates," Lynch said, though she believes more must be done at the local rather than federal level.
"It's not going to be the president who's going to fix this," she said. "It need to be regionalized."
Watch: "Future Work": Exclusive Clip