Before the COVID-19 crisis, the rise of technology and new ways of working were already disrupting jobs and the skills employees need to do them.
In 2019, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that almost 40 percent of Americans are in occupational categories that could shrink by 2030. American workers without a college degree are also four times more likely than those with one to lose their jobs due to automation.
The recent pandemic has only exacerbated this shift. As many as 57 million U.S. jobs are at risk because of COVID-19, and the most vulnerable Americans bear the brunt. Millions will need support shifting into new jobs and careers, building on the skills they have—ideally in a way that improves their economic prospects.
To help connect and guide jobseekers to the support they need, McKinsey has joined the Rework America Alliance formed by the Markle Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on finding solutions for economic security and health for all Americans. The Alliance will help millions of workers, regardless of formal education, move into good jobs in the digital economy by accelerating the development of a more effective system of worker training aligned to jobs that employers will need to fill.
By joining this Alliance, we can help create greater visibility for workers into what opportunities exist and how they can pursue them.Liz Hilton Segel, North America Managing Partner, McKinsey
While there is a rich and growing reskilling ecosystem, it can be hard to help workers navigate it: understanding what the in-demand jobs will be, pinpointing the reskilling opportunities that will most help, choosing and accessing the training options that build the right skills and will have traction with employers, and getting all that insight in a way that is tailored to the individual.
“There is plenty of data out there on reskilling options,” says Nikhil Patel, a McKinsey partner. “But it exists in a patchwork, telling workers different and sometimes conflicting stories. There’s an opportunity to give workers more cohesive support at a national scale.”
The Rework America Alliance members also include a mix of private, public, and social sector institutions, including the African American Mayors Association, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Google, Goodwill, Microsoft, the NAACP, the National Urban League, and Walmart, among others, that will collaborate to help enable unemployed workers to move to better jobs, regardless of formal education. “The need for reskilling has never been more acute,” says Liz Hilton Segel, managing partner for McKinsey in North America. “By joining this Alliance, we can help create greater visibility for workers into what opportunities exist and how they can pursue them.”
As part of McKinsey’s support for the Rework America Alliance, we helped the Markle Foundation design a backbone of capabilities that enables participants in the reskilling ecosystem to better collaborate at scale—linking market signals, actionable insights on reskilling opportunities, and training options that will help workers better access those opportunities. As the Alliance’s work proceeds, McKinsey’s data analytics capabilities will help identify credible job trajectories for workers to improve their wages and job security based on their skills. We will also analyze potential future growth and viability of different job trajectories, and provide a factual anchor for discussion with employers and local community groups about near-term and long-term job demand.
“It takes the guesswork out of this process for workers,” says Liz. “The goal is for jobseekers to be able to make fact-driven decisions on where to invest their time and select and access training options that will meaningfully help.”
As a starting point, our team analyzed the recent experiences of workers across 60 million talent profiles and more than 150 million job postings. They looked at the real experiences of real people who moved successfully along a trajectory of low-wage or lower-middle-wage ‘origin’ jobs at high risk of displacement; to ‘gateway’ jobs proven to serve as a stepping stone to higher wages; to middle-to-high wage ‘destination’ roles that are expected to be in demand, resilient to automation and COVID-19 disruption and accessible to skilled workers without four-year degrees.
Initial analysis suggests that these proven trajectories will be relevant to a large subset of the 16 million Americans currently unemployed and the 57 million Americans at risk. They have a real chance of reaching an attractive occupation through reskilling. “No one knows exactly which jobs will recover when,” says Nikhil. “But reskilling clearly matters, and we should act now. Through the Alliance, we feel tremendous hope being able to help vulnerable workers access opportunities that could improve their incomes and safeguard their futures.”