Future of Work

Work is changing. Advancements in technology - such as automation, 5G internet, renewable energy, and electrification of vehicles - are transforming our economy into a Network Economy where people work together across time and distance through technology and digitization. We already see this with online stores, restaurant takeout and delivery apps, virtual meetings, and more.

COVID-19 is accelerating automation and widening disparities. Within a few short weeks, the pandemic eliminated more than 20 million jobs nationally, and 200,000 jobs in King County alone. The pandemic's demand for physical distancing forced employers to adopt automation, resulting in the loss of entry-level and low-wage jobs like retail salespersons, cashiers, bartenders, and waiters. COVID-19 and automation significantly impact workers with a high school education or less, communities, of color, immigrant and refugees, and young adults. Disparities that existed before the pandemic, especially those related to digital skills and reliable internet access, are worsening as work, education, and training programs are digitized.    

In preparation for the Network Economy, Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) is working with regional workforce partners to prepare residents for the Future of Work. OED's Youth Employment and Workforce Development strategies and programs will cultivate the skillsets needed for the Future of Work and connect residents to jobs in demand.

Digital Bridge

Black man using computer

Digital Bridge connects low-income job seekers with free laptops and Wi-Fi to complete their training programs online and apply for jobs. This project supports those that are disproportionately impacted by the economic impacts of COVID-19 and automation such as people of color, younger workers, refugees and immigrants, and the housing insecure. Without a device and a reliable internet connection, no one can access the services and online resources they need to be successful.

Digital Bridge is a partnership with Comcast, Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI), Seattle Information Technology Department (Seattle IT), Technology and Social Change Group (TASCHA) at the University of Washington Information School, and InterConnection. 'Digital Bridge' is a part of the City's commitment to achieve digital equity for residents who face barriers to accessing technology and are not connected to the internet. 

Questions about Digital Bridge? Want to help bring it to scale, or apply it to your constituents? Please contact Anisa Khoshbakhtian, Technology and Startup Advocate, (206) 514-1929 or anisa.khosh@seattle.gov.  

Foundational Skills for Digital Literacy

Teacher and youth apprentices

Digital literacy is a basic skill for successful career development. What are the foundational digital skills everyone needs to use a WI-FI connected computer, and access services?

Convened by OED, the Digital Skills Steering Committee(DSSC) includes workforce development partners and funders who are standardizing digital skills across institutions. We are developing a prototype to test by the end of 2020 with help from Technology and Social Change Group (TASHA) at the University of Washington Information School.

Here is some research that frames the topic:

Digital Skill Sets for Diverse Users: A Comparison Framework for Curriculum and Competencies 

Beyond the Headlines: Future of Work Part III

Research: Creating Local Talent

Nurse posing

Our research considers how economic disparities are exacerbated by the Network Economy and COVID-19, and includes recommendations to address this through workforce development.

COVID-19 and the Future of Work

This research shows we are entering a new economy - the Network Economy - driven by automation. COVID-19 exacerbated already substantial and growing economic disparities. The Network Economy will compound these disparities without policy intervention. This paper highlights the local impacts of  the Network Economy, and includes recommendations for addressing them through equitable workforce development.

COVID-Recession & Recovery

In late April, OED commissioned researchers at Seattle Jobs Initiative to document the current state of COVID-19 on Seattle's workforce. The research is presented in three segments:

  • Overview of the COVID-19 impacts on the workforce locally
  • Overview of the current state of the local workforce system
  • Recommendations for workforce recovery

Digitalization & Automation in the Construction Trades: Construction Sector in the Network Economy 

We are in the midst of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, changing the nature of work as digital and automation technology takes over tasks, freeing humans to do other things. Automation and the growing networks of Internet-connected people and devices are driving this revolution. The emerging economic system, the Network Economy, will increasingly leverage information technology.

In this paper, Digitalization & Automation in the Construction Trades, we explore the implications of the digital skill gap, introduction of automation, and Network Economy for the construction workforce. This analysis looks at construction employment as a whole in metropolitan Seattle, including residential, commercial, industrial, and heavy civil construction.

Local Talent

Seattle is one of America's great cities.  A place that fosters innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship.  The well-known key to Seattle's success is our people.  With over 540,000 Seattleites in the labor market, we bring skill and talent to our region's new and established businesses.

Business Decision Engine 
The Engine is an interactive tool that provides businesses with information on Seattle's economy, including data on our most important assets - our workforce.

Youth internships can help your business build a future talent pipeline and develop interest and skills in your industry.  If you are ready to host an intern, sign up here.  

If you need help finding talent, contact the business services team at WorkSource of Seattle-King County.  The Business Services Team assists employers with their workforce needs by providing no cost services and support to acquire, develop and retain talent.

Map of WorkSource Centers, Worksource Affiliates, and WorkSource Connection Sites in greater Seattle area. Visit worksourceskc.org for information on accessing this site.

Jobs & Educational Resources

Looking to start a new career, or change careers? We partner with a number of organizations to support jobseekers who need general support, those entering the workforce for the first time or learning new skills. 

Seattle - King County's WorkSource  
WorkSource connects job seekers with job openings, offers access to training resources and information about in-demand jobs, and provides other job search assistance.  Find your local WorkSource office here. 

Airport Jobs  
This site helps job seekers navigate employment opportunities at the airport, complete job applications, create resumes, practice interviews and enroll in airport-related job training. 

Seattle Jobs Initiative  
Seattle Jobs Initiative provides rapid training, coaching, and job placement in positions in Healthcare and Manufacturing with employers who are committed to career advancement for their employees. 

Ready to Work  
The RTW program is an innovative combination of classes for English Language Learners, computer literacy curriculum, job training, and case management to successfully connect immigrants and refugees who need the most assistance with an education and a stable job. 

Reconnect to Opportunity
Reconnect to Opportunity helps young people ages 16-24 who have not finished high school get back on track towards college and a career. The outreach team helps individuals find a school or program that is a good fit, and assists them in navigating the enrollment process.

The Seattle Colleges  
The Center for Working Adults partnership offers technical training for students who have other obligations such as work, school and family. "Worker-friendly" programs and a personal navigator can help you start and finish your degree. 

Seattle Public Library  
The Seattle Public Library (SPL) has a new service: "Your Next Job" that can help you sign-up for unemployment benefits, search for jobs, apply for jobs, and learn new job skills. Through one-on-one appointments via phone, text, or online conferencing, SPL can help job seekers to be successful on career and educational pathways, including job seekers with little or no digital literacy skills and those who have limited English proficiency. SPL can provide one-on-one appointments in EnglishSpanishMandarin, and Russian. You can call (206) 386-4636, email ask@spl.org, or help someone complete the intake form here at their website.

Occupational Dashboard:

Question about OED's Workforce Development programs? Please contact Anisa Khoshbakhtian, Technology and Startup Advocate, (206) 514-1929 or anisa.khosh@seattle.gov.