(Reuters) – Forget robots. The real transformation taking place in nearly every workplace is the invasion of digital tools.
The use of digital tools has increased, often dramatically, in 517 of 545 occupations since 2002, with a striking uptick in many lower-skilled occupations, according to a study released Wednesday by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. (Study: brook.gs/2mn6g9z)
The report underscores the growing need for workers of all types to gain digital skills and explains why many employers say they struggle to fill jobs, including many that in the past required few digital skills. There is anxiety about automation displacing workers and in many cases, new digital tools allow one worker to do work previously done by several.
Those 545 occupations reflect 90 percent of all jobs in the economy. The report found that jobs with greater digital content tend to pay more and are increasingly concentrated in traditional high-tech centers like Silicon Valley, Seattle and Austin, Texas. (Graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2zDADhu)
The report used U.S. Department of Labor data to assign a rating of zero to 100 to each occupation, reflecting the amount that each required use of digital technology. The average score for all occupations rose from 29 in 2002 to 46 in 2016, a 59 percent increase.
Some jobs, especially higher-paying service occupations, have long used digital tools and that continued to grow, the study found. At the same, many jobs that had little or no digital content in 2002 have now become far more likely to require those skills.
Warehouse workers who move around freight saw their average score rise from 5 in 2002 to 25 in 2016. These workers now use handheld devices to track inventories and devices that sound an alarm if they try to put a box into the…