DETROIT (WWJ) – “Was the American Dream…just a dream?” That’s one of the weighty questions tackled at the “Techonomy” Conference in Detroit Tuesday.

Liz Shuler, secretary treasurer of the AFL CIO, was on the panel and says many workers — especially young workers are disillusioned.

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“Their unemployment levels are double that of the average, they’re drowning under debt whether it’s credit card debt – just to survive or the debt they accumulated trying to get a college degree and now can’t find a job to pay it off,” said Shuler.

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The “Techonomy” Conference focused on the role new technology plays in job growth and innovation.

“Historically we have grappled with changes in technology and I think folks here in Detroit know it better than anyone – how do we get on the front edge of it – how do we prepare workers and really invest in the kind of work force development to get highly skilled, highly trianed people that … these companies are looking for.”

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Shuler says the Labor Movement has been “grappling” with staying ahead of the technology curve … and believes engaging the next generation is critical.