The digital divide begins with disparities in hardware access and expands into all corners of daily life, including education, career opportunities, and economic inequity. Building upon hardware, connectivity, and digital skills education, the Beyond the Laptops campaign is invested in data-driven responses that prepare our most marginalized communities for the future of work.
The future of work starts today.
Visions of robot-centric futures, like something out of Ray Bradbury or the Jetsons, have long dominated images of the future. The future of work in particular has been a popular area of study since the computer revolution in the 1980s. Theories of extensive automation and the ‘internet of things’ stresses the close relationship between digital skills and the future of work. As of 2016, 82% of middle income jobs required digital skills and literacy. While the threat of automation in workplaces may have been written off as far out, the COVID-19 crisis only increased digitization and device dependence. The digital divide further exacerbates regional inequity, and for Pittsburgh, threatens another major economic transition like that of the steel industry.
Through coming blog post installments, we plan to explore several research questions involving the digital divide. In our first segment, we will cover the consequences of COVID-19: How does the COVID-19 crisis and its accompanying digitalization saturation inform the future of work? Will the social distancing requirements of COVID expedite automation? How does this impact Pittsburgh?
Stay tuned to future blog posts as we explore the impacts on sectors, the positions of middle-income workers, and address pervasive inequity in the Pittsburgh region.