October 11, 2017

Princeton Professors Will Join Task Force To Fix Labor Market

By Donald Gilpin

Edward Felten, professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School (WW), and Alan Krueger, professor of economics and public policy at WW, will serve on a new task force seeking to transform America’s labor market from one based largely on degrees to one based on skills.

“I’m excited to join the Rework America Task Force,” said Krueger. “The group that I am participating in is making a serious effort to align skills training and skill certification with the needs of the 21st century economy.”

Created by the Markle Foundation, the Rework America Task Force (RATF) plans to “use the same forces that will increasingly disrupt our economy С from big data to automation to artificial intelligence С to enable Americans to get the training they need to fill quality jobs available now and in the future.”

Felten outlined some of the challenges he sees. “Artificial intelligence and automation have tremendous potential to increase prosperity, save lives, and address social problems,” he said. “At the same time they will change the workplace and demand new skills and practices from workers. Rework America aims to map out a better future for workers, so that automation can benefit everyone.”

A charitable organization headquartered in New York City with a history of making recommendations and influencing policy at the highest levels of government, the Markle Foundation proposes to “advance a new labor market system that will allow job seekers to identify and prepare for in-demand jobs, employers to find and train workers with the skills their businesses need, and educators to identify and teach the skills our economy demands,” according to its mission statement for RATF.

Krueger served as chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and a member of the Cabinet from 2011 to 2013. Before that he was assistant secretary for economic policy and chief economist of the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 2009 to 2010 and chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor from 2004 to 2005.

He is the founding director of the Princeton University Survey Research Center and the author of a number of widely published books and articles.

Felten, the founding director of the University’s Center for Information Technology Policy, served as deputy U.S. chief technology officer in the Obama administration from 2015 to 2017 and as the first chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission from 2011 to 2012. He has researched and published extensively on web security, copyright and copy protection, and electronic voting, and his weblog at freedom-to-tinker.com is widely read for its commentary on technology, law, and policy, according to the University computer science department.

Supported by the Carnegie Corporation, Microsoft Philanthropies, the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in addition to Markle, the RATF will make recommendations to fix a U.S. labor market suffering from millions of unfilled jobs, because employers cannot find skilled workers, and at the same time millions of capable workers who are unemployed or underemployed.