All eyes are on the impact that automation and machine learning will have on U.S. jobs. But futurists are ignoring the fact that work currently does not work for millions of Americans. Nearly 11.5 million people who work as retail salespeople and cashiers and in food prep and service earn poverty-level wages and have unpredictable schedules, few opportunities for success and growth, and little meaning and dignity in their jobs.
Transforming these bad jobs into good jobs is a good way to prepare for the future. Complex problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity are the most important future job skills. But at good jobs companies, these very skills are already demanded, developed, and put to use. These companies are less likely to focus on machines replacing workers and more likely to focus on machines as a valuable complement to their valuable people.
Finally, collaborative, productive, empowered employees will be best equipped to help roll out new innovations.