At the TrustBelt 2016 conference in Chicago, leaders in economic development met to discuss the forces involved in the economic future of the Midwest. A main point of focus among speakers was how the workforce can grapple with the explosion of automation.

Derrick Mashore, managing director at Jones Lang LaSalle, a professional services and investment management company specializing in real estate, was one such speaker with thoughts on automation and the workforce. TechRepublic spoke with Mashore about, among other things, how automation has affected office space, the trucking industry, and how workers can equip themselves in this new era.

Mashore said one of the things he finds fascinating about automation and office space is that the changes are “utterly unpredictable.” He said he didn’t think anyone could foretell, for example, how automation and robotics would turn industrial warehouses into places with fewer and fewer people working in them. And in the office space, he said, there’s more density.

Mashore added that he thought there should be more concern about how automation will likely disrupt more than 1.8 million jobs in the trucking industry. “In the Midwest, for example, long-haul trucking isn’t going to be long-haul trucking very much longer,” Mashore said. He said the industry is not far off from creating automated trucking capabilities. While he believes everyone is focused on automated automobiles, he thinks that vehicles won’t be able to drive in urban environments without humans “for quite some time.”

TechRepublic asked Mashore what he saw as the biggest challenges companies face as they begin to automate tasks. “It’s an education piece,” Mashore said. “Someone has to be the person that drives, directs, organizes, orchestrates, and picks up after the robotic exercise. And that’s not what our workforce has been typically educated to do.”

Also see…