The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies has released a new report, “Racial Differences on the Future of Work: A Survey of the American Workforce,” which presents findings from a survey of 2,000 Black, Latino, Asian American and white respondents to examine their perspectives on the future of work.
Among the key findings, according to a news release are:
• A significant majority of Americans support free college or training as a response to job displacement. African Americans (85 percent) expressed the highest support of this policy, followed by Asian Americans (78 percent), Latinos (75 percent) and whites (70 percent).
• People of color have a significant interest in education and training. Asian Americans, African Americans and Latinos were all more likely than whites to be interested in obtaining education or training from all the provided options, including an in-person college degree program, online college, community college, a trade union and a GED.
• All four groups cited financial constraints as the biggest barrier to obtaining additional training. The least cited barrier was feeling personally incapable of acquiring new skills.
With regard to the most impactful steps schools can take to prepare children for the future economy, African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans were much more likely than whites to prioritize teaching computer programming, according to the report.
Latino and white Americans were more likely than African Americans and Asian Americans to prioritize vocational training. African Americans and whites were more likely than Asian Americans and Latinos to prioritize core educational subjects such as math, science and language arts.
“Our report offers the most in-depth view to date of how communities of color perceive the future of work, providing insights for lawmakers to address long-term challenges and ensure Americans from all backgrounds are prepared to compete in a rapidly evolving economy,” said Spencer Overton, president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and tenured professor of law at George Washington University in Northwest.
Overton said the report is one of six the Joint Center will this year regarding race and the future of work.
He said this report found that communities of color have significant interest in education and training as policymakers, employers and education leaders grapple with how to prepare the workforce for a changing economy.
The report found that African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans are all more likely than whites to pursue higher education at a four-year, community or online institution when needing to gain new skills for their current or future job.
It also found that nearly a third of Latinos believe vocational training options are most impactful for preparing children for the future of work — more than any other racial group.
Also, Asian Americans (41 percent) are 70 percent more likely than African Americans (24 percent) to believe that technology has provided them more opportunities in the workplace, according to the report.
While survey respondents of all racial backgrounds report that technology has created more job opportunities and efficiencies than it has eliminated, African Americans are the least likely to believe this to be true, Overton said, quoting from the report.
“In 20 to 30 years, people of color will constitute over half of all Americans,” he said. “Over that same period, a substantial majority of jobs will require some form of education or training beyond what’s offered in high school. Yet, most discussions of the future of work ignore the disproportionate effects it will have on communities of color.
“If we’re to meaningfully address rather than simply replicate the historical inequities that continue to burden communities of color, we need policymakers, employers and education providers working in unison to ensure workers of color have meaningful opportunities to gain the skills required to overcome the seismic labor market challenges on the horizon,” Overton said.
To view the full report, go to jointcenter.org.