Report says automation could replace half TN workforce

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A report released by the state of Tennessee suggests that up to 1.4 million people are at risk of losing their jobs to automation.

Citing a study by the Center for Economic Research in Tennessee, the Knoxville News Sentinel ( ) reports that automation could replace nearly 50 percent of the state’s workforce.

The findings were published on the Tennessee Workforce Disruption Index last week. According to the report, automation would change the way the workplace is configured and would make new demands on educational facilities. The report stated that automation will not eliminate labor, but it is likely to reshape the distribution of jobs. It stated that new jobs will be created and people will shift toward existing jobs that require high-level skills.

Randy Boyd, the commissioner of the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development, said that a massive loss of jobs could be avoided by shifting educational resources and by training workers for new career opportunities. He said the people who are most at risk of losing jobs are those who don’t have post-secondary skills.

To address the issue, Boyd said that the department’s solution is its Drive to 55 initiative. He said the initiative can raise post-secondary educational attainment in the state from 37 percent of the population to about 55 percent and could generate $9.3 billion annually.

“So if we fail, it’s cataclysmic,” he said. “If we succeed, it’s glorious.”

The report also concluded that among 12 Southeast states, Tennessee is ninth-most vulnerable to future workforce disruption.