The Cluster Newsletter vol. 3: Podcast, Work and Mars

Photo by Tomasz Gawłowski on Unsplash

September 18, 2019

Hi there,

The skills employers look for in engineers are changing. Recently, I was invited to join the Skill podcast hosted by Micah Merrick where we discussed how Industry 4.0 is impacting the needs of manufacturing companies. We also touched on whether unemployment or underemployement is the bigger problem, Cluster's plans for helping engineers land jobs and acquire new training, and other future of work related topics. Download the podcast and give it a listen during your next commute or gym sesh.

Before I sign off, I’ll leave you with a bit of space trivia: What's the name of the first spacecraft to make a successful flyby of Mars? Scroll down to the end for the answer. See you in a fortnight!

Kim Taylor
CEO, Cluster

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Source: NASA
Testing the InSight Mars Lander's Solar Arrays, 2018

Landmark California Labor Bill Rewrites Worker Status

  • After much debate, California legislators passed Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5). Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign AB 5 into law which will reclassify many independent contractors working across the state as employees. Employees, unlike independent contractors, are afforded protections including a minimum wage, overtime pay, sick leave, family leave, unemployment, disability insurance, and other benefits.
  • AB 5 has many detractors including gig giants Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash who employ hundreds of thousands of contractors. The companies lobbied hard against the bill and pledge to continue fighting, possibly by introducing a ballot initiative. These businesses and others maintain that the extra benefits will add 30% to labor costs.
  • Under the new test, a worker is an employee if his or her job forms part of a company’s core business; if the bosses direct the way the work is done; or if the worker has not established an independent trade or business.
  • It’s not just platform-based gig workers who will see their status shift from independent contractors to employees. Workers in construction, healthcare, trucking, janitorial services, nail salons, and more will all become employees if they meet the test criteria.
  • The gig companies are still hoping to strike a compromise with labor unions and Governor Newsom. While they failed to receive an exemption from the bill, doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers, accountants, architects, realtors, and many others received carve-outs. more here >>

Artificial Intelligence Is Creating More Jobs Than It's Destroying

  • Ian Siegel, co-founder and CEO at ZipRecruiter, spoke with BNN Bloomberg to discuss the future of work and recruitment amid the growth of artificial intelligence. Highlights below.
  • Algorithms are good for identifying who has the hard skills for a job, but it can’t replace human interviewers who can discern soft skills. One of the fears of using AI is that since it uses data provided by humans, it may end up perfecting the unconscious bias human employers bring into the interview process.
  • When it comes to AI displacing human workers, ZipRecruiter evaluated 50 million job listings posted over the last six months and found that AI is creating more jobs than it's destroying. Successful deployments of AI have been in partnership with a human, rather than replacing a human.
  • The much-feared jobs apocalypse where millions of workers will need to be retrained or lose their jobs will not be nearly as daunting as many think. People get retrained all the time on technology, like going from using paper maps to GPS apps. Workers will have to get comfortable with new software, but it doesn’t mean they’ll have to return to school and get a degree in data science.
  • AI will also transform cities into the nation's breadbasket through precision farming where warehouses are stacked with growing devices to grow crops indoors. Traditional farms get a 60% harvest, but warehouses are able to harvest 98% of the crops they produce. The new approach will make farming local, organic, cheaper and allow produce that was once seasonal to be available year-round.   more here >>

Today’s roundup was written by Lawren Henderson with contributions from Kim Taylor and Justin Parker in Los Angeles.

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Upcoming Events in SoCal

Sept 19:  “It Broke! A Story of How We Fixed It”
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena
As a part of its von Kármán Lecture Series, JPL presents a story about how scientists and engineers repaired and saved a spacecraft that was millions of miles away. Info

Sept 20: Lunar Exploration: Past, Present and Future
Glendale Community College
Glendale
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, Glendale Community College will host a planetarium show on lunar exploration. This special showing will simulate a flight to the Moon as astronauts would have seen it in 1969 and look at current and future missions. Info
Check out our calendar for all the latest SoCal events here

Getting Ready to Make Human and Martian History

Source: NASA

Mariner 4 is prepared for a weight test at JPL. Pasadena, CA 1963