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Massachusetts Future of Work Commission Preparing State for Technology Disruption


The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people work and do business in the state of Massachusetts, according to a new report. The 82-page report from the Future of Work Commission indicates a shift away from urban areas as more people work from home, coupled with risks for job growth moving out of state as a result of high costs of living and doing business.

The report was commissioned by Governor Charlie Baker to help inform the state's efforts to support workers and businesses. The Future of Work group was established as part of a 2020 jobs bill designed to help Massachusetts prepare for a future of work that will be impacted by automation and other disruptive technologies.

"Overall, the report concludes that the changing ways of working may shift what we think of as the center of gravity here in Massachusetts, away from the urban core and toward the rest of the state," said Baker. "The report's detailed analysis of workforce and economic trends gives us a roadmap for how we can take tangible steps to make sure that Massachusetts can continue to grow and thrive in a post-pandemic world."

The report found that extensive training will be necessary to ensure workers have the skills required in a future economy. The Commission estimates 300,000 to 400,000 workers will need to transition to different occupations or even new occupational categories throughout the next decade.

To aid in that process, the state Workforce Training Fund Program is awarding $8 million to around 100 businesses through a round of grants. Baker is also advocating for further investments in similar programs as part of a $2.9 billion plan to spend part of funds received from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. He hopes to allocate $240 million of those funds for workforce development and job training programs.

The funds can't be allocated too quickly, according to those in Baker's administration.

"We do need to get moving because as the governor said, we've got over 330,000 people falling off unemployment on September 4," said Rosalin Acosta, secretary of labor and workforce development. "And if you ask me what keeps me up at night, it's that. It's not having those people engaged to the workforce. We need those folks engaged in the workforce immediately."

The Future of Work Commission will hold five hearings to discuss the impact of automation, AI, global trade, the internet of things and access to new forms of data on workers, employers ands the economy at large.

Edited by Luke Bellos
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