Computers and the Future of Skill Demand
Computer scientists are working on reproducing all human skills using artificial intelligence,
machine learning and robotics. Unsurprisingly then, many people worry that these advances
will dramatically change work skills in the years ahead and perhaps leave many workers
This report develops a new approach to understanding these computer capabilities by
using a test based on the OECD’s Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) to compare computers
with human workers. The test assesses three skills that are widely used at work and
are an important focus of education: literacy, numeracy and problem solving with computers.
Most workers in OECD countries use the three skills every day. However, computers
are close to reproducing these skills at the proficiency level of most adults in the
workforce. Only 13% of workers now use these skills on a daily basis with a proficiency
that is clearly higher than computers.
The findings raise troubling questions about whether most workers will be able to
acquire the skills they need as these new computer capabilities are increasingly used
over the next few decades. To answer those questions, the report’s approach could
be extended across the full range of work skills. We need to know how computers and
people compare across all skills to develop successful policies for work and education
for the future.
Published on October 27, 2017
In series:Educational Research and Innovationview more titles