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Discussions about the future of work have focused on the idea that technology will soon reduce or alter the need for human labor in many occupations. Has this conventional narrative failed to focus on the key challenges facing workers today and in the future?

Osterman will offer a perspective on these discussions, and how they relate to the need to address the challenge of a large—and seemingly persistent—low wage labor market. He will assess a range of strategies for addressing the challenge of low wages, and make the case for a greater focus on training and human capital approaches than has been typical in the progressive policy toolkit.


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About the Speaker

Paul Osterman is the NTU Professor of Human Resources and Management at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management. Osterman has been a senior administrator of job training programs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and consulted widely to firms, government agencies, foundations, community groups, and public interest organizations. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from M.I.T.

Osterman’s recent books include: Who Will Care For Us? Long Term Care and the Long Term Care Workforce (Russell Sage, 2016); Economy In Society (MIT Press, 2013) and Good Jobs America: Making Work Better For Everyone (Russell Sage, 2011). In addition, Osterman has written numerous academic journal articles and policy issue papers on topics such as the organization of work within firms, labor market policy, and economic development.



Annette Bernhardt is director of the Low-Wage Work Program at the UC Berkeley Labor Center, as well as a senior researcher at the UC Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. A leading scholar of low-wage work, she was one of the principal investigators of the landmark study Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers, which documented high rates of minimum wage, overtime, and other workplace violations in the low-wage labor market.  Her current research focuses on domestic outsourcing, the gig economy, and the impact of new technologies on low- wage work. Dr. Bernhardt’s most recent book is the co-edited The Gloves-Off Economy: Workplace Standards at the Bottom of America’s Labor Market. She has also published widely in journals such as the American Journal of Sociology, the American Sociological Review, and the Journal of Labor Economics, among others. Dr. Bernhardt received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago in 1993.

John Zysman received his B.A at Harvard and his Ph.D. at MIT. He has written has extensively on European and Japanese policy and corporate strategy; his interests also include comparative politics, Western European politics, and political economy. Zysman’s publications include The Highest Stakes: The Economic Foundations of the Next Security System (Oxford University Press, 1992), Manufacturing Matters: The Myth of the Post-Industrial Economy (Basic Books, 1987), and Governments, Markets, and Growth: Finance and the Politics of Industrial Change (Cornell University Press, 1983).

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science at UC Berkeley, and the Berkeley Opportunity Lab.