AT&T’s $1 billion gambit: Retraining nearly half its workforce for jobs of the future — from by Susan Caminiti

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

  • AT&T initiated a massive retraining effort after discovering that nearly half of its 250,000 employees lacked the necessary skills needed to keep the company competitive.
  • Ninety percent of maturing companies expect digital disruption, but only 44 percent are adequately preparing for it.
  • Despite the federal government’s investment in job-retraining efforts, most are deemed ineffective.


The discovery presented AT&T with two daunting options, explains Bill Blase, senior executive vice president of human resources. “We could go out and try to hire all these software and engineering people and probably pay through the nose to get them, but even that wouldn’t have been adequate,” he explains. “Or we could try to reskill our existing workforce so they could be competent in the technology and the skills required to run the business going forward.”


In a world where technology advances are measured in months, not years, companies selling everything from computers and cellphones to cereal and sneakers are trying desperately to adapt. A recent research report by the Society for Human Resource Management states that nearly 40 percent of hiring managers cite lack of technical skills among the reasons why they can’t fill job openings.

And the message isn’t lost on workers, either. A 2016 Pew Research Center survey shows that more than half of the adults in the workforce today realize that it will be essential for them to get training and develop new skills throughout their career in order to keep up with changes in the workplace.

In fact, according to Willis Towers Watson, 90 percent of maturing companies expect digital disruption, but only 44 percent are adequately preparing for it — and getting the right people to get the work done remains a challenge for most.

AT&T’s massive global retraining program — the company prefers to call it “reskilling” — is perhaps corporate America’s boldest response to this war for talent. Known inside the company as Future Ready, the initiative is a $1 billion web-based, multiyear effort that includes online courses; collaborations with Coursera, Udacity and leading universities; and a career center that allows employees to identify and train for the kinds of jobs the company needs today and down the road. An online portal called Career Intelligence lets workers see what jobs are available, the skills required for each, the potential salary range and whether that particular area is projected to grow or shrink in the years ahead. In short, it gives them a roadmap to get from where they are today to where the company needs them to be in the future.



From DSC:
This article is encouraging in at least a couple of ways to me:

  • A large company is choosing to retrain its employees, helping them to learn and grow — to reinvent themselves and to stay relevant
  • A large company is recognizing the exponential pace of change that we’re now on. The question is, are we ready for it?





Mapping the Trends on Our Doorstep: The Pace of Change Has Changed — from an article that I did out at — and with — [where LLL stands for lifelong learning]; my thanks to Mr. Amrit Ahluwalia, Managing Editor out at and to his staff as well!
The higher education industry has changed significantly over the past decade, and given the pace and significance of change hitting other industries as a result of technological advances, it’s fair to say the postsecondary space is ripe for further transformation.


From DSC:
From the perspective of those of us working within higher education, we see massive changes occurring in the corporate world, and we see innovations and changes also occurring in the world of K-12. Higher education should also be adapting, changing, questioning, and reflecting upon how we can best prepare our students for a rapidly changing workplace.

Below is another interesting item that I believe gives credence to the idea that we are now on an exponential pace of change. Companies are coming and going on the S&P Index…at an ever faster pace.

The 33-year average tenure of companies on the S&P 500 in 1964 narrowed to 24 years by 2016 and is forecast to shrink to just 12 years by 2027 (Chart 1).


Here is the video:

This is the transcript with the original graphs in it.

This is a nice PDF file from with the transcript, with some different graphics and some other





From DSC:
DC: Will Amazon get into delivering education/degrees? Is is working on a next generation learning platform that could highly disrupt the world of higher education? Hmmm…time will tell.

But Amazon has a way of getting into entirely new industries. From its roots as an online bookseller, it has branched off into numerous other arenas. It has the infrastructure, talent, and the deep pockets to bring about the next generation learning platform that I’ve been tracking for years. It is only one of a handful of companies that could pull this type of endeavor off.

And now, we see articles like these:

Amazon Snags a Higher Ed Superstar — from by Doug Lederman
Candace Thille, a pioneer in the science of learning, takes a leave from Stanford to help the ambitious retailer better train its workers, with implications that could extend far beyond the company.


A major force in the higher education technology and learning space has quietly begun working with a major corporate force in — well, in almost everything else.

Candace Thille, a pioneer in learning science and open educational delivery, has taken a leave of absence from Stanford University for a position at Amazon, the massive (and getting bigger by the day) retailer.

Thille’s title, as confirmed by an Amazon spokeswoman: director of learning science and engineering. In that capacity, the spokeswoman said, Thille will work “with our Global Learning Development Team to scale and innovate workplace learning at Amazon.”

No further details were forthcoming, and Thille herself said she was “taking time away” from Stanford to work on a project she was “not really at liberty to discuss.”


Amazon is quietly becoming its own university — from by Amy Wang


Jeff Bezos’ Amazon empire—which recently dabbled in home security, opened artificial intelligence-powered grocery stores, and started planning a second headquarters (and manufactured a vicious national competition out of it)—has not been idle in 2018.

The e-commerce/retail/food/books/cloud-computing/etc company made another move this week that, while nowhere near as flashy as the above efforts, tells of curious things to come. Amazon has hired Candace Thille, a leader in learning science, cognitive science, and open education at Stanford University, to be “director of learning science and engineering.” A spokesperson told Inside Higher Ed that Thille will work “with our Global Learning Development Team to scale and innovate workplace learning at Amazon”; Thille herself said she is “not really at liberty to discuss” her new project.

What could Amazon want with a higher education expert? The company already has footholds in the learning market, running several educational resource platforms. But Thille is famous specifically for her data-driven work, conducted at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon University, on nontraditional ways of learning, teaching, and training—all of which are perfect, perhaps even necessary, for the education of employees.


From DSC:
It could just be that Amazon is simply building its own corporate university and will stay focused on developing its own employees and its own corporate learning platform/offerings — and/or perhaps license their new platform to other corporations.

But from my perspective, Amazon continues to work on pieces of a powerful puzzle, one that could eventually involve providing learning experiences to lifelong learners:

  • Personal assistants
  • Voice recognition / Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  • The development of “skills” at an incredible pace
  • Personalized recommendation engines
  • Cloud computing and more

If Alexa were to get integrated into a AI-based platform for personalized learning — one that features up-to-date recommendation engines that can identify and personalize/point out the relevant critical needs in the workplace for learners — better look out higher ed! Better look out if such a platform could interactively deliver (and assess) the bulk of the content that essentially does the heavy initial lifting of someone learning about a particular topic.

Amazon will be able to deliver a cloud-based platform, with cloud-based learner profiles and blockchain-based technologies, at a greatly reduced cost. Think about it. No physical footprints to build and maintain, no lawns to mow, no heating bills to pay, no coaches making $X million a year, etc.  AI-driven recommendations for digital playlists. Links to the most in demand jobs — accompanied by job descriptions, required skills & qualifications, and courses/modules to take in order to master those jobs.

Such a solution would still need professors, instructional designers, multimedia specialists, copyright experts, etc., but they’ll be able to deliver up-to-date content at greatly reduced costs. That’s my bet. And that’s why I now call this potential development The New of Higher Education.

[Microsoft — with their purchase of Linked In (who had previously
purchased — is
another such potential contender.]




From DSC:
Regarding the article below…why did it take Udacity needing to team up with Infosys to offer this type of program and curriculum? Where are the programs in institutions of traditional higher education on this?  Are similar programs being developed? If so, how quickly will they come to market? I sure hope that such program development is in progress..and perhaps it is. But the article below goes to show us that alternatives to traditional higher education seem to be more responsive to the new, exponential pace of change that we now find ourselves in.

We have to pick up the pace! To do this, we need to identify any obstacles to our institutions adapting to this new pace of change — and then address them immediately. I see our current methods of accreditation as one of the areas that we need to address. We’ve got to get solid programs to market much faster!

And for those folks in higher ed who say change isn’t happening rapidly — that it’s all a bunch of hype — you likely still have a job. But you need to go talk with some people who don’t, or who’ve had their jobs recently impacted big time. Here are some suggestions of folks to talk with:

  • Taxi drivers who were impacted by Lyft and by Uber these last 5-10 years; they may still have their jobs, if they’re lucky. But they’ve been impacted big time…and are likely driving for Lyft and/or Uber as well as their former employers; they’re likely to have less bargaining power than they used to as the supply of drivers has skyrocketed. (By the way, the very existence of such organizations couldn’t have happened without the smartphone and mobile-related technologies/telecommunications.)
  • Current managers and former employees at hotels/motels about the impacts on their industry by AirBnB over a similar time frame
  • Hiring managers at law firms who’ve cut back on hiring entry-level lawyers…work that’s increasingly being done by software (example)
  • Employees who worked at brick and mortar retailers who have been crushed by’s online-based presence (in not that long of time, by the way). For example, below is what our local Sears store looks like these days…go find an employee who used to work at Sears or a Sears automotive-related store:


This is what our local Sears store looks like today

This picture is for those who say there is no disruption.
You call
this hype?!


The above example list — that’s admittedly woefully incomplete — doesn’t include the folks displaced by technology over the last several decades, such as:

  • Former bank tellers who lost their jobs to ATMs
  • Checkout clerks at the grocery stores who lost their jobs to self-service stations
  • Check-in agents at the airports who lost their jobs to self-service stations
  • Etc., etc., etc.

Institutions of traditional higher education
need to pick up the pace — big time!


Infosys and Udacity team up to train 500 engineers in autonomous technologies — from by Leah Brown
Infosys’ COO Ravi Kumar explains how these individuals can apply what they learn to other industries.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Infosys, a global technology consulting firm, recently partnered with online learning platform Udacity to create a connected service that provides training for autonomous vehicles, and other services for B2B providers of autonomous vehicles.

TechRepublic’s Dan Patterson met with Infosys’ COO Ravi Kumar to discuss how autonomous technology can help create new industries.

Autonomous technology is going to be an emerging technology of the future, Kumar said. So Infosys and Udacity came together and developed a plan to train 500 engineers on autonomous technologies, and teach them how to apply it to other industries.


Per Wikipedia:
Udacity is a for-profit educational organization founded by Sebastian Thrun, David Stavens, and Mike Sokolsky offering massive open online courses (MOOCs). According to Thrun, the origin of the name Udacity comes from the company’s desire to be “audacious for you, the student.” While it originally focused on offering university-style courses, it now focuses more on vocational courses for professionals.



But times are changing. Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are facilitating the automation of a growing number of “doing” tasks. Today’s AI-enabled, information-rich tools are increasingly able to handle jobs that in the past have been exclusively done by people—think tax returns, language translations, accounting, even some kinds of surgery. These shifts will produce massive disruptions to employment and hold enormous implications for you as a business leader. (





From DSC:
In this video, I look at how the pace of change has changed and I also provide some examples that back up this assertion. I end with a series of relevant questions, especially for those of us working within higher education.

What are we doing to get ready for the massive change that’s heading our way?



McKinsey: automation may wipe out 1/3 of America’s workforce by 2030 — from by Steve LeVine

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

In a new study that is optimistic about automation yet stark in its appraisal of the challenge ahead, McKinsey says massive government intervention will be required to hold societies together against the ravages of labor disruption over the next 13 years. Up to 800 million people—including a third of the work force in the U.S. and Germany—will be made jobless by 2030, the study says.

The bottom line: The economy of most countries will eventually replace the lost jobs, the study says, but many of the unemployed will need considerable help to shift to new work, and salaries could continue to flatline. “It’s a Marshall Plan size of task,” Michael Chui, lead author of the McKinsey report, tells Axios.

In the eight-month study, the McKinsey Global Institute, the firm’s think tank, found that almost half of those thrown out of work—375 million people, comprising 14% of the global work force—will have to find entirely new occupations, since their old one will either no longer exist or need far fewer workers. Chinese will have the highest such absolute numbers—100 million people changing occupations, or 12% of the country’s 2030 work force.

I asked Chui what surprised him the most of the findings. “The degree of transition that needs to happen over time is a real eye opener,” he said.


The transition compares to the U.S. shift from a largely agricultural to an industrial-services economy in the early 1900s forward. But this time, it’s not young people leaving farms, but mid-career workers who need new skills.



From DSC:
Higher education — and likely (strictly) vocational training outside of higher ed — is simply not ready for this! MAJOR reinvention will be necessary, and as soon as 2018 according to Forrester Research. 

One of the key values that institutions of traditional higher education can bring to the table is to help people through this gut wrenching transition — identifying which jobs are going to last for the next 5-10+ years and which ones won’t, and then be about the work of preparing the necessary programs quickly enough to meet the demands of the new economy.

Students/entrepreneurs out there, they say you should look around to see where the needs are and then develop products and/or services to meet those needs. Well, here you go!




As a member of the International Education Committee, at edX we are extremely aware of the changing nature of work and jobs. It is predicted that 50 percent of current jobs will disappear by 2030.

Anant Agarwal, CEO and Founder of edX, and Professor of
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT





Automation threatens 800 million jobs, but technology could still save us, says report — from by James Vincent
New analysis says governments need to act now to help a labor force in flux


A new report predicts that by 2030, as many as 800 million jobs could be lost worldwide to automation. The study, compiled by the McKinsey Global Institute, says that advances in AI and robotics will have a drastic effect on everyday working lives, comparable to the shift away from agricultural societies during the Industrial Revolution. In the US alone, between 39 and 73 million jobs stand to be automated — making up around a third of the total workforce.


If a computer can do one-third of your job, what happens next? Do you get trained to take on new tasks, or does your boss fire you, or some of your colleagues? What if you just get a pay cut instead? Do you have the money to retrain, or will you be forced to take the hit in living standards?



How to be an ed tech futurist — from by Bryan Alexander
While no one can predict the future, these forecasting methods will help you anticipate trends and spur more collaborative thinking.


Some of the forecasting methods Bryan mentions are:

  • Trend analysis
  • Environmental scanning
  • Scenarios
  • Science fiction





From DSC:
I greatly appreciate the work that Bryan does — the topics that he chooses to write about, his analyses, comments, and questions are often thought-provoking. I couldn’t agree more with Bryan’s assertion that forecasting needs to become more realized/practiced within higher education. This is especially true given the exponential rate of change that many societies throughout the globe are now experiencing.

We need to be pulse-checking a variety of landscapes out there, to identify and put significant trends, forces, and emerging technologies on our radars. The strategy of identifying potential scenarios – and then developing responses to those potential scenarios — is very wise.














As Corporate World Moves Toward Curated ‘Microlearning,’ Higher Ed Must Adapt — from by Sean Gallagher


Just outside the walls of the ivory tower, a transformation is underway in the world of corporate learning, and those of us at colleges and universities should pay attention.

Corporate learning and development, often referred to as L&D, is radically different than just a few years ago. Meanwhile, the education dialogue has shifted to a focus on employment-related themes such as competencies and skills.

“Businesses today have to be more agile and have to be able to pivot—access to content needs to be very rapid,” says Lori Bradley, executive vice president for global talent management at PVH Corp, a publicly- traded fashion and apparel company with 35,000 employees. “Priorities and jobs are changing more quickly, so we need an agile learning environment that anticipates what learning needs will be, and where we can quickly access them.”

The typical employee has one percent of their time available for learning, according to research by Bersin by Deloitte.

When there’s a need for information or new skills, employees today are increasingly turning to instantly accessible sources such as search engines and online course libraries available on their mobile devices. “Before, our only options were to send people to a training, sit in a course, and learn the material–whether from a university or a week-long certification,” says Shelly Holt, vice president of global learning for SAP, a leading enterprise-software company. “Information today is pushed so quickly at people that the landscape has fundamentally changed.”



We need to think more in terms of providing streams of content -- Daniel Christian



In a world where content is more commoditized, today’s corporate L&D market is increasingly driven by the curation of external content and learning—rather than investment in formal training programs and traditional course libraries. As Lori Bradley, of PVH, describes, “for our people moving at the speed of business, they need to access the content when they need it. We’re moving toward microlearning — 90 minute or shorter sessions.”



Second, in this changing landscape, colleges and universities that seek to meet corporate needs must move beyond monolithic programs and think in terms of competencies, unbundling curriculum, modularizing and “microlearning.”




WE ARE NOT READY FOR THIS! Per Forrester Research: In US, a net loss of 7% of jobs to automation — *in 2018*!

Forrester predicts that AI-enabled automation will eliminate 9% of US jobs in 2018 — from by Gil Press

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

A new Forrester Research report, Predictions 2018: Automation Alters The Global Workforce, outlines 10 predictions about the impact of AI and automation on jobs, work processes and tasks, business success and failure, and software development, cybersecurity, and regulatory compliance.

We will see a surge in white-collar automation, half a million new digital workers (bots) in the US, and a shift from manual to automated IT and data management. “Companies that master automation will dominate their industries,” Forrester says. Here’s my summary of what Forrester predicts will be the impact of automation in 2018:

Automation will eliminate 9% of US jobs but will create 2% more.
In 2018, 9% of US jobs will be lost to automation, partly offset by a 2% growth in jobs supporting the “automation economy.” Specifically impacted will be back-office and administrative, sales, and call center employees. A wide range of technologies, from robotic process automation and AI to customer self-service and physical robots will impact hiring and staffing strategies as well as create a need for new skills.


Your next entry-level compliance staffer will be a robot.


From DSC:

Are we ready for a net loss of 7% of jobs in our workforce due to automation — *next year*? Last I checked, it was November 2017, and 2018 will be here before we know it.


***Are we ready for this?! ***


AS OF TODAY, can we reinvent ourselves fast enough given our current educational systems, offerings, infrastructures, and methods of learning?


My answer: No, we can’t. But we need to be able to — and very soon!



There are all kinds of major issues and ramifications when people lose their jobs — especially this many people and jobs! The ripple effects will be enormous and very negative unless we introduce new ways for how people can learn new things — and quickly!

That’s why I’m big on trying to establish a next generation learning platform, such as the one that I’ve been tracking and proposing out at Learning from the Living [Class] Room. It’s meant to provide societies around the globe with a powerful, next generation learning platform — one that can help people reinvent themselves quickly, cost-effectively, conveniently, & consistently! It involves providing, relevant, up-to-date streams of content that people can subscribe to — and drop at any time. It involves working in conjunction with subject matter experts who work with teams of specialists, backed up by suites of powerful technologies. It involves learning with others, at any time, from any place, at any pace. It involves more choice, more control. It involves blockchain-based technologies to feed cloud-based learner profiles and more.

But likely, bringing such a vision to fruition will require a significant amount of collaboration. In my mind, some of the organizations that should be at the table here include:

  • Some of the largest players in the tech world, such as Amazon, Google, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, and/or Facebook
  • Some of the vendors that already operate within the higher ed space — such as, Ellucian, and/or Blackboard
  • Some of the most innovative institutions of higher education — including their faculty members, instructional technologists, instructional designers, members of administration, librarians, A/V specialists, and more
  • The U.S. Federal Government — for additional funding and the development of policies to make this vision a reality



The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV



Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

© 2017 | Daniel Christian