Peters, Young Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Measure Impact of Automation on Workers and Inform Workforce Development Strategies

WASHINGTON, DC U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced bipartisan legislation that would better assess 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 would authorize the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) — with the assistance of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine — 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. According to a recent study, one-third of American workers will need to gain new skills and possibly transition careers by 2030, depending on how quickly certain new technologies are adopted.

“As automation continues to redefine the everyday operations of our companies, it is essential that we support Michigan workers,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. “This bipartisan legislation would help put our workforce in the best position possible to close skills gaps and thrive as cutting-edge technologies continue to emerge.”

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

“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.” 

“Changes in workforce remains the top challenge in the manufacturing industry today. The Workforce DATA Act sponsored by Senator Peters will allow organizations such as ours better understand the effects of automation on the manufacturing industry, said Mike Coast, President, Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. “This information is critical to allow us to develop new services to accentuate the opportunities it provides, while mitigating the challenges it presents.”

“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 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 Maureen Westphal, Executive Director of PTIO. PTIO is led by partners at the American Trucking Associations, Daimler, FedEx, Ford, Lyft, Toyota Motor North America, Uber and Waymo.

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 and expand workforce training and apprenticeship programs so workers have the skills needed for good-paying jobs. Last year, Peters helped introduce legislation that would extend job training and reemployment benefits to workers who lost their jobs due to automation. Additionally, Peters recently introduced bipartisan legislation that would help expand opportunities for veterans to register for apprenticeship job training programs.