Adapting to the Cyber-Driven Workforce: A Battle for the Discouraged Worker

Adapting to the Cyber-Driven Workforce: A Battle for the Discouraged Worker

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-8691-7.ch009
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By 2025, up to 85 million jobs globally could be displaced due to automation and new technologies. The traditional approach of relying solely on human resources to address unemployment is no longer effective. A concern is the narrow-minded focus aligning internal organizational objectives with human resource practices. As technology rapidly advances, industries must adapt to new tools and approaches, including automation, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity. Human factors must be understood and incorporated. These changes are creating new job opportunities while also replacing some jobs. This text highlights the urgent need to provide support, education, and retraining programs for the discouraged workforce, who are at a higher risk of displacement due to lack of skills and education. Failure to address this issue could have a detrimental effect on the economy and burden social welfare programs. This text emphasizes the importance of research at the intersection of discouraged workers, technology, and change.
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The COVID-19 pandemic drove a change in this 21st century and third millennium that elucidated the view of remote work remaining significant in terms of people, time, and technology. Ten years after the end of the Great Recession, the United States’ economy unceasingly expanded, and the labor market persisted strong by historical standards (Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS], 2020a). By the end of 2019, the economy had grown for 126 months or 42 quarters, making it the longest economic expansion on record (BLS, 2020a; BLS, 2018). As a result of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, unemployment had touched levels not experienced in the United States subsequent to the Great Depression, cresting at 14.7% in April 2020 afore falling to 11.1% in June 2020 (Congressional Research Service, 2020).

As the United States economy struggled to recover from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of unemployed people found themselves out of work despite months of looking (Bennett, 2021). Bennet further states that notwithstanding signs of progress in the broader job market in the United States, nearly four-in-ten unemployed workers had been out of work for more than six months in February 2021, about doubling the percentage in February 2020. During February 2020, a growing increasing number of job searchers became discouraged, disheartened, and this group abandoned the labor field completely, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government statistics (Bennett, 2021).

As organizations adjust to innovative tools and techniques, the swift evolvement of cyber and technology is shifting the workforce. Certain positions are being replaced by automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, while others are being created. Additionally, organizations are investing in cybersecurity methods to secure their data and systems against breaches and assaults. This change is affecting not just the skills required in the economy, but also how individuals work, with more remote and flexible work arrangements becoming more frequent. As given by a report by the World Economic Forum, by 2025, the increase in automation and artificial intelligence is expected to displace 85 million jobs, but will also create 97 million new roles in fields such as data analysis, cybersecurity, and software development (World Economic Forum, 2020). Additionally, a survey by Gartner found that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part-time after the pandemic, up from 30% pre-pandemic (Gartner, 2021).

Discouraged workers, along with other categories of workers such as those who are underemployed or face barriers to employment, require solutions to remain in the job market because their absence from the workforce can have negative impacts on both their own financial well-being and the economy as a whole (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019). Cyber and technology are changing the workforce by creating new industries and jobs while also automating many traditional jobs, which can displace workers and require them to acquire new skills (McKinsey Global Institute, 2020). As technology continues to advance, certain skills are becoming more valuable in the workforce, such as data analysis and programming (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD], 2019). Low-skilled jobs are being replaced by automation, making it more challenging for workers void of specialized skills to attain employment (Freeman, 2021). Approximately 36 million low-skilled jobs in the United States are at high risk of being replaced by automation in the coming years; the jobs at the highest risk of automation include positions in food service, production, and retail (Brookings Institute, 2019). Similarly, a study conducted by the OECD found that approximately 14% of jobs in OECD countries are highly automatable (Arntz et al., 2016). The study suggested that low-skilled workers are more likely to be affected by automation than high-skilled workers.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Two-Loop Change Theory Model: Two-Loop Change Theory is a model developed by Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer that explains the process of personal and organizational change. The model is based on the idea that there are two loops of change that operate simultaneously: the first loop focuses on improving current systems and practices, while the second loop focuses on creating new possibilities and paradigms.

Theory of Employment and Unemployment: The Theory of Employment and Unemployment is a branch of economics that aims to understand the dynamics and causes that impact an economy's employment levels and unemployment rates. This theory is based on the labor market, which consists of job searchers (the supply side) and employers (the demand side) (the demand side). It investigates how various market actors interact in order to establish the total employment rate and salary levels.

Change Management: Change management refers to the process of planning, implementing, and managing changes to an organization's processes, systems, policies, or structure. It involves a systematic approach to transition an organization from its current state to a desired future state, while minimizing disruption and ensuring that the changes are properly integrated and adopted by the organization's stakeholders.

Massive Open Online Courses: Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are online educational courses designed to accommodate a huge number of learners. Without the requirement for formal membership or fees, these courses often provide open access to high-quality educational resources such as video lectures, readings, quizzes, and interactive discussion forums. MOOCs are frequently developed by universities, educational institutions, or industry professionals and might span from computer science and engineering to humanities and social sciences. MOOCS enable learners all around the world to obtain new knowledge, improve their abilities, and even earn academic credits and credentials at their own speed and convenience.

Discourages Worker: Discouraged workers are individuals who are able to work and are available for employment, but have given up actively seeking employment because they believe there are no job opportunities available for them or they have been unsuccessful in finding work. Discouraged workers are not counted as part of the labor force, and therefore, are not included in the official unemployment rate. However, they are still considered to be a part of the potential labor force, and their existence indicates a weakness in the labor market.

Human Factors: Human Factors references the study of how humans interact with systems, products, and environments, with a focus on optimizing performance, safety, and well-being.

Technological Determination Model: The Technological Determinism Model is a theory that suggests that technology is the primary driving force behind social and cultural change. According to this model, technological advances and innovations are the key drivers of change in society and that they shape and influence the way people interact with one another, how they perceive the world, and how they behave.

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