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Regional Attitudes on Workforce and Education: The Future of Work (2020)

By Evan Schmidt

The acceleration of technology innovation is one of the most significant transformative forces of our time. Today’s innovations, such as digitalization, automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies, have changed the nature of our national and global economy and are changing the nature of work across all sectors of industry, impacting workers as skill and competency needs shift.

Valley Vision and the Institute for Social Research (ISR) at Sacramento State conducts public opinion polls, drawing from a regional panel that demographically represents the six county region (El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba counties) and reports at a margin of error of +/-3%. This survey seeks to better understand technology disruption, the gig economy, experiences at work, values towards work, and aspirations for the future.

We found that poll respondents are excited about the future, including changes to their own work life as a result of technology innovation, but still want and need security and protections in place to ensure their success.

Some key findings and conclusions for the future of work in the Capital Region include:

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Respondents are optimistic about new technologies and 82% are excited or confident about the effect that technology innovation will have on their future job prospects. Despite this excitement, a major skill shift is underway and some workers are at risk of losing jobs.

The “gig” economy has a significant impact on our region’s people and economy. About one-third of respondents currently earn income through employment “gigs” and one-quarter report that income from the gig economy is their primary source of income.

Despite changes to the nature of work respondents still value job security and long-term service to an organization. Although younger generations tend to have shorter job tenure, workers of any age are looking for the same things – meaningful work, opportunities to grow, recognition for contributions, and high performing companies.

Entrepreneurship is a key aspect of the modern economy. 62% of respondents believe that they have entrepreneurial skills and abilities and 50% say that they’d take a chance and start their own business. Entrepreneurial networks across the region are key to inclusive economic growth.

Two-thirds of respondents have faced discrimination in the workforce, especially related to sex and race. Ensuring that there are opportunities for social mobility and well-being for all is critical for a thriving and inclusive region.

More than half of respondents are open to leaving the region for better opportunities elsewhere, if needed. Creating, retaining, and attracting talent is a shared responsibility across business, education, community, and individuals.

Valley Vision will present the findings of the workforce and education survey in a series of reports, focusing on how respondents are navigating work and their outlook for their future. Subsequent reports will focus on The Skills of the Future in the Capital region and The Future of Education in the Capital region.

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