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07/23/2021

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It doesn't seem like there are too many options for traditional gas-powered workers besides adapting through training, etc. - which is required from most of humanity as a result of complexities/technological advances resulting from climate change - some demographics more than others. Not only are electric vehicles replacing combustion engines, but there are significant changes in many aspects of industry in the U.S. and abroad. As a country and as the automotive sector, prioritizing these sustainable job challenges at the forefront, is key in driving towards solutions for these workers and ballot box retaliation can be avoided.

Going off Jessica's comments on adapting through training, what is the role of companies providing re-training/new skills for employees to be able to switch fields, especially for a large shift like in the auto industry?

It will be expensive for companies to re-train and not all companies will want to make the investment and time, but seems like the there are benefits that could outweigh the cost such as having a stable workforce with skills they need, a potential more loyal workforce and reduce the hiring cost of getting a new employee.

Jessica and Allen - these are great points. I think companies do invest in training their own employees for the reasons you mention. But the incentives to do so are not super strong. They can't be sure the employees will stay, turnover rates are often high, and their retraining efforts can then benefit competitors. They are also not best placed to provide educational services, in most cases (on the job learning by doing, as a byproduct of normal work activities, is the main source of human capital growth within firms), and doing so has a high opportunity cost (the worker is not on the job while being retrained, but is presumably being paid). In the end my view (perhaps self-serving, since it is my industry) is that there is no substitute for a well-functioning educational system that can quickly adapt to technological transformations. Unfortunately, we're not really there, which, as Module 6 argues, is why technological improvements usually lead to some increases in inequality.

Perhaps an overly optimistic viewpoint, but could the incentive to help retrain the potentially displaced workforce rest with unions such as the UAW? Is there any historical precedent for a body like a union helping its clientele adapt to massive structural market changes like the one presented?

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