You can't turn truck drivers into coders, Andrew Yang says of job retraining

Businessman and 2020 presidential hopeful Andrew Yang is not so optimistic about the future of some workers in a labor force where jobs are being displaced by automation.

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While the Silicon Valley insider has warned that as many as 30 percent of all U.S. jobs could be replaced within the next decade, he doesn't think the U.S. has been focusing on an adequate solution to keep these people from falling behind.

In a tweet this week, Yang suggested that job retraining “doesn’t work,” and that people who believe in the ability to turn truck drivers into coders might have some misconceptions.

Yang seemed to specifically be referring to retraining manufacturing workers, citing unnamed studies conducted in the Midwest with success rates between 0 percent and 15 percent, during a recent interview on ABC’s “The View.”

The Silicon Valley businessman has said, for example, that while truck driving is one of the highest-paying jobs for non-college graduates, engineers are already working on self-driving trucks.

According to a report from The Brookings Institution, by 2030 about 25 percent of jobs will have experienced high exposure to automation – which may allow companies to perform tasks with greater precision.

But while many have focused efforts on retraining these workers for jobs that will be in demand in the future labor force, Yang warns that may not be a viable solution.


Part of Yang’s solution to help combat the effects of job elimination due to technological innovation is to provide workers with a “freedom dividend” under his universal basic income plan. Yang has proposed giving every American age 18 and over $1,000 per month, regardless of income or employment status. He has said he would fund the proposal by “consolidating some welfare programs” and imposing a value-added tax (VAT) of 10 percent.

A VAT is levied on the production of goods or services produced by businesses.