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Peters Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill to Gauge Impact of Automation on Workers and Inform Workforce Development Strategies

DETROIT, MI U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) reintroduced bipartisan legislation that would better gauge the impacts of automation on workers in order to inform workforce development strategies and best practices. The Workforce Data for Analyzing and Tracking Automation Act, which Peters introduced with U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN) – would authorize the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to record the effect of automation on the workforce and measure those trends over time, including job displacement, the number of new jobs created, and the shifting of in-demand skills. It also would establish a workforce development advisory board comprised of key business and labor leaders to advise the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on which types of public and private sector initiatives can promote consistent workforce development improvements.

“Automation continues to play an increasing central role in our society – particularly during this pandemic. As new technologies emerge, it is critical we have the tools and resources to ensure that workers benefit from the impacts of automation,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. “I’m pleased to reintroduce this bipartisan bill by better collecting data around automation, we can strengthen skills training and apprenticeship opportunities and create good-paying jobs that utilize cutting-edge technologies.” 

“It’s clear that automation is rapidly changing the way our workforce operates, especially as we continue to navigate this pandemic. We must be able to track those changes in order to support workers needing to adapt to evolving technologies like artificial intelligence,” said Senator Young. “That is why I’m co-leading the Workforce DATA Act to measure continuous, reliable data on the impacts of the latest technological advancements in order to ensure our workers aren’t left behind.”

“Workforce issues continue to be one of the biggest challenges for manufacturers today across Michigan and the U.S. The bipartisan Workforce DATA Act sponsored by Senator Peters will enable organizations such as ours to better understand the impact of automation on the manufacturing industry,” said Mike Coast, President, Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. “This information will be very valuable as we increase our work with Michigan’s small and medium-size manufacturers to understand and implement relevant technologies to improve their operations.”

“The Partnership for Transportation Innovation and Opportunity (PTIO) exists to identify and promote policies and programs that will help ensure Americans benefit from the adoption of autonomous vehicle technology, and an evidenced-based understanding of automation’s impact on the workforce is critical to achieving this mission. Soliciting the expertise of the National Academies, as well as expert stakeholders, is an important step to ensure concrete data is used to inform our understanding and subsequent policies. We applaud Senators Peters and Young for their leadership on this issue and introduction of the Workforce DATA Act,” said Kathryn Branson, Executive Director, PTIO. “PTIO is led by partners at the American Trucking Associations, Daimler, FedEx, Ford, Lyft, May Mobility, Toyota Motor North America, UPS and Waymo.”

“I endorse the Workforce DATA Act introduced by Senators Peters and Young as a means to support innovation in the U.S.,” said Dr. Erica Groshen, former Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “By expanding relevant data, research, program evaluation and stakeholder engagement, provisions in the Act will provide the evidence needed to guide workforce development decisions as automation advances. Only with this trustworthy information can policymakers, employers and others ensure that our workers will be ready to prosper in 21st century.” 

“The Workforce DATA Act introduced by Senator Peters and Senator Young is a proactive step towards preparing for the wide range of impacts that automation will have on the workforce. SAFE’s research has found that self-driving vehicle technology could unleash $800 billion in annual social and economic benefits by 2050. However, economic changes from this technological shift will displace some workers, and to mitigate the negative impacts we must understand the scope and nature of these changes in order to prepare the workforce for the jobs of the future,” said Robbie Diamond, President and CEO, Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE). “The Workforce DATA Act can help equip policymakers with the information they need to maximize the net social and economic benefits from technologies like self-driving vehicles.”

The Workforce DATA Act is also endorsed by the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Peters has long supported efforts in Congress to spur technological advancement, expand workforce training and apprenticeship programs and help create and retain jobs in Michigan. Last year, Peters’ bipartisan legislation to allow more veterans to use their GI bill benefits toward securing a registered apprenticeship was signed into law. Peters also introduced a bipartisan bill last month that would require federal agencies to give preference to American companies and spend taxpayer dollars on American-made products and American jobs. Additionally, Peters introduced a bill this past June would reform the tax code to reward businesses that bring jobs back from foreign countries.