Future of Work & Workers


Today, the future of work and wellbeing is under threat from a new technological revolution. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation is unfolding at warp speed and it is unclear if today’s institutions can manage the pace of change.

Managing this transition will be one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. Still, leading figures in the field have yet to determine how and if the future of work will yield positive or negative outcomes for the global workforce.

Its emergence poses an array of endless, challenging questions as we face this new frontier:

  • What does the future of work and workers look like when framed in the human context? Can humans and societies thrive without meaningful work as we know it today?
  • What jobs should we imagine defining this new age and what skills will be most in-demand?
  • What role will human intelligence play relative to the fields where AI will dominate? Will they complement one another or be at odds?
  • Can we control and moderate the pace of change or is change likely to be beyond our control?
  • How do we prepare working people for all of what this transition entails?
  • What is the role of universities in both producing this technology and in preparing society and workers to use it ethically and responsibly?

At the McKenna Center, we believe that if new technologies are developed and introduced both ethically and responsibly, they will increase human productivity and job quality, offering the potential to generate exciting new industries while still preserving meaningful work for the mass of humanity. It is the work of the McKenna Center and similar university centers across the nation to provide the visionary research and foresight required to guide this transition over the coming decades. 

To that end, we are assembling leading scholars here at the University of Notre Dame to undertake state-of-the-art research on the broad trends that will define this transition. They will also focus on a range of impacts—on individual classes of jobs and workers, labor markets, specific industries, policy responses of both government and industry, emergent skill training programs and approaches, and on the evolution of the technologies themselves over time. The opportunities for exciting and high-impact research are unlimited.