The work environment in the Garden State has been strongly influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many workers now relying on technology at home to do their jobs.

A new report finds expanding the use of technology in many industries is expected to continue at a rapid pace.

Nicole Sandelier, the executive director of Focus New Jersey, a nonprofit research foundation launched by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association in February of this year, said the Future of Work in New Jersey report is based on feedback by 250 business executives and industry leaders throughout the state.

"The Future of Work in New Jersey is really focused on the adoption and integration of new technologies and artificial intelligence throughout our industries," she said.

Sandelier said the skillsets needed for the jobs of tomorrow will include “big data analytics, simulation, virtual and augmented reality, and ambiguous connectivity and tracking, cyber security, information technology and BIM, which is building information modeling.”

She also said so-called soft skill attributes (people skills) will also play an important role in the future of work in New Jersey.

Sandelier said through the research done in the report “we’re hoping to collaborate more with government and academia to ensure that the skill-sets of the future are embedded into our institutions and educational systems today.”

She said the increasing use of technology in different industries may seem overwhelming and even scary, but industry leaders understand to get the workforce ready for this changing reality.

“The focus is really on non-traditional education endeavors such as apprenticeships, credentialing and life-long learning," she said.

The report finds in the construction industry there is great opportunity to improve overall productivity and efficiencies with new technologies and use of new materials.

Another way to expand opportunities is by bolstering trade skillsets in K-12 education, increasing capacity at the state’s vocational  schools and creating more apprenticeship programs and the promotion of trade careers, the report says.

The report also finds advancement in health services will be made by using technological advancements including artificial intelligence.

Sandelier stressed “the goal of our study was to understand what are the changing dynamics, industry threats and opportunities, how does your workforce need changing.”

She added the report concludes expanding opportunities for future workers in New Jersey will happen with “better collaboration between business, academia and government and that tract toward non-traditional education endeavors.”

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