(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – With proper preparation, employers and their workers can thrive amid the continued rise of the technology-induced displacement of employees (TIDE™). But the risk to employers and employees is great if Congress, businesses, educators and workers continue to ignore the dramatic changes presented by automation, robotics and artificial intelligence.
Those were the words of James A. Paretti, Jr., a leader of the Emma Coalition, during testimony before the Higher Education and Workforce Education Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee at a Capitol Hill hearing today. The Emma Coalition is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to addressing the coming TIDE through education, training and engagement with policymakers. The group was founded and is led by professionals from Littler, the world’s largest employment and labor law practice representing management, and the National Restaurant Association, the largest foodservice trade association in the world.
Paretti outlined how technological disruption impacts employees — from entry-level and skilled-labor positions to middle management and executives. He urged Congress to play a role in addressing future workforce and workplace issues, noting that bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) would help develop a workforce pipeline for science and technology in the area of artificial intelligence.
“We at the Emma Coalition and you in Congress share the responsibility to rise to this challenge, and to ensure that the 21st is the next great ‘American Century’,” Paretti said. “We stand ready to work with you to achieve this goal.”
The Coalition’s testimony also spotlighted efforts by the National Restaurant Association and its Educational Foundation, where industry leaders have recognized and addressed TIDE-related issues. Paretti noted that the Association’s Prostart program serves 150,000 high school students from over 1,900 schools in all 50 states. Further, the Association’s Restaurant Ready program puts underserved youth on a path to employment.
Since its founding, the Emma Coalition has established a variety of partnerships and outreach programs, including the Washington State Task Force on the Future of Work; America Succeeds, a national network of business and non-profit organizations committed to improving public education; and state-level groups in Oregon and Arizona, among others. The Coalition has also participated in public discussions on the topic at the United Nations and to major corporations.