Training today’s learners to be the hired guns of tomorrow — from by Michael Niehoff


Freelancer. Free Agent. Independent Contractor. Consultant. Hired Gun. Slice it anyway you like–this is the future of work.

This is the “Gig Economy.” The world where contract work is the new norm. Experts say this already represents 34% of the current American workforce and estimates are that this will increase to 40% – 50% by 2020.

As educators, how do we prepare today’s students for a future employment landscape that is vastly different from what we ourselves have known? Yes, it’s about skills – both technical and interpersonal. But it’s also really a new way of thinking about our operation in the working world.

Our students will need to continually learn about and apply current developments in technology, global collaboration, market opportunities and emerging industries to win in this new economy. How do we give students both the mindset and the skillset to not only survive, but thrive in this 21st-century gig galaxy?

Let’s go beyond the norm and regardless of grade level, program or specific academic content area, help all learners be prepared for the future of work in the new economy. Educators and schools may consider implementing the following six concepts.



Keep That Cheese Moving
We are all creatures of habit. Students, and adult learners too, love to sit in the same space, work with the same people and ultimately follow patterns of daily work. The problem is that our addiction to habit and predictability (schedules, processes, expectation, etc.) runs counter to the nature of work in the future, which will require people to be much more flexible, adaptive and less attached to a norm. Our students will be working in environments that will be constantly disrupted and re-created. Learning to have one’s cheese moved is more important than ever and directly related to developing a startup mindset.




Also see:

Minerva: The Intentional University — from by Tom Vander Ark


Problems to be Solved
Kosslyn and Nelson outline four problems that Minerva addresses:

  • Higher education is not fulfilling its promise: students are leaving unprepared for work and life;
  • Many college students are unengaged and half don’t graduate;
  • Global students don’t have access to first-rate colleges; and
  • College is too expensive.

The innovative Minerva design and the book detailing its startup phase address all of these problems. Stated positively, Kosslyn suggests that higher education should equip young people to succeed in life after college, both professionally and personally. That leads to four goals:

  1. Understanding leadership and working with others: most of the world’s problems are so complex they require people to work together, leveraging each other’s strengths.
  2. Understanding innovation: learn when and how to innovate.
  3. Thinking broadly and adaptively: acquiring broadly useful intellectual tools.
  4. Attaining a global perspective: experiencing different cultures and being comfortable working with people from different backgrounds.