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?




The number of Americans working for themselves could triple by 2020 — from by Amy Wang

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Americans are as eager to work as ever. Just no longer for somebody else.

According to FreshBooks, a cloud-based accounting company that has conducted a study on self-employment for two years, the number of Americans working for themselves looks to triple—to 42 million people—by 2020.

The trend, gauged in a survey of more than 2,700 full-time US workers in traditional, independent, and small business roles about their career plans, is largely being driven by millennial workers. FreshBooks estimates that of the next 27 million independent workers, 42% will be millennials. The survey, conducted with Research Now, also finds that Americans who already work for themselves are suddenly very content to keep doing so, with 97% of independent workers (up 10% from 2016) reporting no desire to return to traditional work.



From DSC:
With the continued trend towards more freelancing and the growth of a more contingent workforce…have our students had enough practice in selling themselves and their businesses to be successful in this new, developing landscape?

We need to start offering more courses, advice, and opportunities for practicing these types of skills — and the sooner the better!  I’m serious. Our students will be far more successful with these types of skills under their belt. Conversely, they won’t be able to persuade others and sell themselves and their businesses without such skills.




Michelle Weise: ‘We Need to Design the Learning Ecosystem of the Future’ — from  by Michelle Weise


These days, education reformers, evangelists and foundations pay a lot of lip service to the notion of lifelong learning, but we do little to invest in the systems, architecture and infrastructure needed to facilitate seamless movements in and out of learning and work.

Talk of lifelong learning doesn’t translate into action. In fact, resources and funding are often geared toward the traditional 17- to 22-year-old college-going population and less often to working adults, our growing new-traditional student population.

We’ll need a different investment thesis: For most adults, taking time off work to attend classes at a local, brick-and-mortar community college or a four-year institution will not be the answer. The opportunity costs will be too high. Our current system of traditional higher education is ill-suited to facilitate flexible, seamless cost-effective learning pathways for these students to keep up with the emergent demands of the workforce.

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma.We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”


We have to do better. Let’s begin seeding the foundational elements of a learning ecosystem of the future—flexible enough for adults to move consistently in and out of learning and work. Enough talk about lifelong learning: Let’s build the foundations of that learning ecosystem of the future.



From DSC:
I couldn’t agree more with Michelle that we need a new learning ecosystem of the future. In fact, I have been calling such an effort “Learning from the Living [Class] Room — and it outlines a next generation learning platform that aims to deliver everything Michelle talks about in her solid article out at

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


Along these lines…I just saw that Amazon is building out more cashierless stores (and Walmart is also at work on introducing more cashierless stores.) Now, let’s say that you are currently a cashier. 2-5 years from now (depending upon where you’re currently working and which stores are in your community), what are you going to do? The opportunities for such a position will be fewer and fewer. Who can help you do what Michelle mentioned here:

Working learners will also need help articulating their learning goals and envisioning a future for themselves. People don’t know how to translate their skills from one industry to another. How does a student begin to understand that 30% of what they already know could be channeled into a totally different and potentially promising pathway they never even knew was within reach?

And that cashier may have had a tough time with K-12 education and/or with higher education. As Michelle writes:

Many adults may have no interest in coming back to college. Out of the 37 million Americans with some college and no degree, many have already failed one or twice before and will be wholly uninterested in experiencing more educational trauma. We can’t just say, “Here’s a MOOC, or here’s an online degree, or a 6- to 12-week immersive bootcamp.”

And like the cashier in this example…we are quickly approaching an era where, I believe, many of us will need to reinvent ourselves in order to:

  • stay marketable
  • keep bread and butter on the table
  • continue to have a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives

Higher ed, if it wants to remain relevant, must pick up the pace of experimentation and increase the willingness to innovate, and to develop new business models — to develop new “learning channels” so to speak. Such channels need to be:

  • Up-to-date
  • Serving relevant data and information– especially regarding the job market and which jobs appear to be safe for the next 5-10 years
  • Inexpensive/affordable
  • Highly convenient




From DSC:
My comments below are not meant to bash anyone at the Institute for the Future (which I really respect) nor at MIT Technology Review, in fact I recently posted an item from the latter organization that I thought was great. But l
ooking at the list below, I can’t help but think, “Oh…that should be no problem!  Geez that’s easy! ………NOT!”

As people lose their jobs to AI, robots, bots, algorithms, automation and the like — and try to reinvent themselves — many people won’t have the skills, interests, aptitudes, funding, background/prior knowledge, etc. to carve out their niches, to find out how to build teams that utilize robots and AI, and to make sense of complex systems. How many of us truly understand the world we’re living in these days? No one does.

Again, no problem on mastering these 5 peak performance zones. Easy peazy lemon squeezy. Geeez.  (Please hear the intense sarcasm dripping off my comments.)

How unrealistic can we get? It’s like saying, “Everyone can learn to code. No problem.”  That’s not true at all, especially given the current state of computer programming. Many (most?) people simply don’t think that way. That’s why programmers are always in demand and they are often highly paid. Why? Because most people don’t want to do it, can’t do it, or choose not to do it.

Please, let’s get realistic.


From the 2/22/18 e-newsletter from MIT Technology Review

The five skills you need for jobs of the future

The Palo Alto-based think tank Institute for the Future partnered with software company Cornerstone OnDemand to produce a report that identifies 15 skills that workers need to succeed in the workplace of tomorrow. They fall into five main buckets:

  1. Make yourself known through reputation management: Carve out your niche and brand across a variety of platforms to distinguish yourself from the crowd.
  2. Master human and machine collaboration: Know how to build teams that utilize robots and AI, as well as humans.
  3. Build your tribe: Personal networks and social connections will take you to the next level in a tech-focused world.
  4. Make sense of complex systems: The ability to be creative and connect the dots between different industries and organizations will be rewarded.
  5. Build resilience in extreme environments: Learn to thrive in more a risk prone society and build yourself new safety nets.



“To be fit for this future, you need to master five peak performance zones. These are the basics of future fitness for everyone. No matter what your own personal mission in life is, these are the workout zones that will get you ready to face whatever comes next.”






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:
Here’s a quote that has been excerpted from the announcement below…and it’s the type of service that will be offered in our future learning ecosystems — our next generation learning platforms:


Career Insight™ enables prospective students to identify programs of study which can help them land the careers they want: Career Insight™ describes labor market opportunities associated with programs of study to prospective students. The recommendation engine also matches prospective students to programs based on specific career interests.


But in addition to our future learning platforms pointing new/prospective students to physical campuses, the recommendation engines will also provide immediate access to digital playlists for the prospective students/learners to pursue from their living rooms (or as they are out and about…i.e., mobile access).


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



Artificial intelligence working with enormous databases to build/update recommendation engines…yup, I could see that. Lifelong learning. Helping people know what to reinvent themselves to.




Career Insight™ Lets Prospective Students Connect Academic Program Choices to Career Goals — from; also from Hadley Dreibelbis from Finn Partners
New Burning Glass Technologies Product Brings Job Data into Enrollment Decisions

BOSTON—Burning Glass Technologies announces the launch of Career Insight™, the first tool to show prospective students exactly how course enrollment will advance their careers.

Embedded in institutional sites and powered by Burning Glass’ unparalleled job market data, Career Insight’s personalized recommendation engine matches prospective students with programs based on their interests and goals. Career Insight will enable students to make smarter decisions, as well as improve conversion and retention rates for postsecondary institutions.

“A recent Gallup survey found that 58% of students say career outcomes are the most important reason to continue their education,” Burning Glass CEO Matthew Sigelman said. “That’s particularly true for the working learners who are now the norm on college campuses. Career Insight™ is a major step in making sure that colleges and universities can speak their language from the very first.”

Beginning an educational program with a firm, realistic career goal can help students persist in their studies. Currently only 29% of students in two-year colleges and 59% of those in four-year institutions complete their degrees within six years.

Career Insight™ enables prospective students to identify programs of study which can help them land the careers they want:

  • Career Insight™ describes labor market opportunities associated with programs of study to prospective students. The recommendation engine also matches prospective students to programs based on specific career interests.
  • The application provides insights to enrollment, advising, and marketing teams into what motivates prospective students, analysis that will guide the institution in improving program offerings and boosting conversion.
  • Enrollment advisors can also walk students through different career and program scenarios in real time.

Career Insight™ is driven by the Burning Glass database of a billion job postings and career histories, collected from more than 40,000 online sources daily. The database, powered by a proprietary analytic taxonomy, provides insight into what employers need much faster and in more detail than any other sources.

Career Insight™ is powered by the same rich dataset Burning Glass delivers to hundreds of leading corporate and education customers – from Microsoft and Accenture to Harvard University and Coursera.

More information is available at





What these firms all have in common are powerful digital platforms that provide the scale and scope to expand into new growth markets and geographies at speeds never before possible.



From DSC:
To me, the item below provides another example of the exponential pace of change that we are beginning to experience:

Corporate Longevity Forecast: The Pace of Creative Destruction is Accelerating — from by Scott Anthony, S. Patrick Viguerie, Evan Schwartz and John Van Landeghem

Excerpt/Executive Summary:

Few companies are immune to the forces of creative destruction. Our corporate longevity forecast of S&P 500 companies anticipates average tenure on the list growing shorter and shorter over the next decade.

Key insights include:

  • 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).
  • Record private equity activity, a robust M&A market, and the growth of startups with billion-dollar valuations are leading indicators of future turbulence.
  • A gale force warning to leaders: at the current churn rate, about half of S&P 500 companies will be replaced over the next ten years.
  • Retailers were especially hit hard by disruptive forces, and there are strong signs of restructuring in financial services, healthcare, energy, travel, and real estate.
  • The turbulence points to the need for companies to embrace a dual transformation, to focus on changing customer needs, and other strategic interventions.


Are Corporations Ready for Increased Turbulence?

Viewed as a larger picture, S&P 500 turnover serves as a barometer for marketplace change. Shrinking lifespans of companies on the list are in part driven by a complex combination of technology shifts and economic shocks, some of which are beyond the control of corporate leaders. But frequently, companies miss opportunities to adapt or take advantage of these changes. For example, they continue to apply existing business models to new markets, are slow to respond to disruptive competitors in low-profit segments, or fail to adequately envision and invest in new growth areas which often takes a decade or longer to pay off.

At the same time, we’ve seen the rise of other companies take their place on the list by creating new products, business models, and serving new customers. Some of the market forces driving these exits and entries include the mass disruption in retail, the rising dominance of digital technology platforms, the downward pressure on energy prices, strength in global travel and real estate, as well as the failure of stock buyback efforts to improve performance.






The next era of human|machine partnerships
From by the Institute for the Future and Dell Technologies


From DSC:
Though this outlook report paints a rosier picture than I think we will actually encounter, there are several interesting perspectives in this report. We need to be peering out into the future to see which trends and scenarios are most likely to occur…then plan accordingly. With that in mind, I’ve captured a few of the thoughts below.


At its inception, very few people anticipated the pace at which the internet would spread across the world, or the impact it would have in remaking business and culture. And yet, as journalist Oliver Burkeman wrote in 2009, “Without most of us quite noticing when it happened, the web went from being a strange new curiosity to a background condition of everyday life.”1


In Dell’s Digital Transformation Index study, with 4,000 senior decision makers across the world, 45% say they are concerned about becoming obsolete in just 3-5 years, nearly half don’t know what their industry will look like in just three years’ time, and 73% believe they need to be more ‘digital’ to succeed in the future.

With this in mind, we set out with 20 experts to explore how various social and technological drivers will influence the next decade and, specifically, how emerging technologies will recast our society and the way we conduct business by the year 2030. As a result, this outlook report concludes that, over the next decade, emerging technologies will underpin the formation of new human-machine partnerships that make the most of their respective complementary strengths. These partnerships will enhance daily activities around the coordination of resources and in-the-moment learning, which will reset expectations for work and require corporate structures to adapt to the expanding capabilities of human-machine teams.

For the purpose of this study, IFTF explored the impact that Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), and Cloud Computing, will have on society by 2030. These technologies, enabled by significant advances in software, will underpin the formation of new human-machine partnerships.

On-demand access to AR learning resources will reset expectations and practices around workplace training and retraining, and real-time decision-making will be bolstered by easy access to information flows. VR-enabled simulation will immerse people in alternative scenarios, increasing empathy for others and preparation for future situations. It will empower the internet of experience by blending physical and virtual worlds.


Already, the number of digital platforms that are being used to orchestrate either physical or human resources has surpassed 1,800.9 They are not only connecting people in need of a ride with drivers, or vacationers with a place to stay, but job searchers with work, and vulnerable populations with critical services. The popularity of the services they offer is introducing society to the capabilities of coordinating technologies and resetting expectations about the ownership of fixed assets.


Human-machine partnerships won’t spell the end of human jobs, but work will be vastly different.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that today’s learners will have 8 to 10 jobs by the time they are 38. Many of them will join the workforce of freelancers. Already 50 million strong, freelancers are projected to make up 50% of the workforce in the United States by 2020.12 Most freelancers will not be able to rely on traditional HR departments, onboarding processes, and many of the other affordances of institutional work.


By 2030, in-the-moment learning will become the modus operandi, and the ability to gain new knowledge will be valued higher than the knowledge people already have.



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




What College Doesn’t Teach You About Building a Network — from by Jeff Sellingo


Here’s what I told the students in Boston about starting their network. It’s advice that might be useful for any of us trying to build or expand our network throughout life.


From DSC:
I appreciated reading Jeff’s article out on LinkedIn; a solid topic, for sure.

These days, I try to share with students taking my Foundations of Information Technology Course that I had the wrong view of networking in college and for many years after that. I thought networking was manipulative and self-serving.

I tell the students that I was wrong to view networking that way. I now see networking very differently. I view it as an opportunity to learn with — and from — others, to share information with others, to contribute to others, to help others and to be helped by them as well. It’s a multi-directional street. It’s also invaluable in finding a new job. The saying that “it’s not always what you know but who you know” is very true.

I strongly encourage the students to be out on LinkedIn and to begin their networking immediately (we create a LinkedIn profile as part of the class). They can start with fellow students as well as their current faculty members, family members, people from their current jobs or churches or volunteer organizations, etc.  They can contribute to streams of content on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media as well as draw from those streams of content as well.

I have always valued other people. But I didn’t always value networking. I now value networking much more than I ever did before.




Updating Education for the Evolving Job Market: Learning at the Pace of Life and Work — from by Sophie Wade

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

A technology-stimulated, connected, and accelerated marketplace is generating different roles and additional skills requirements for us as workers. The traditional model of completing our lifelong education needs before we enter the workforce is now obsolete. On-the-job experience must now be supplemented as business and technological requirements evolve significantly and rapidly. Compelling new multilevel learning options are emerging to cater to the new necessity of updating important knowledge and capabilities at work. Many new offerings are online and modular in order to be accessible and flexible, giving labor force participants greater opportunity to remain relevant and competitive.

Since the beginning of the Industrial Era, evolution typically occurred from generation to generation. New developments were adopted by incoming cohorts, adding to and then replacing well-established workers’ existing practices of which could be phased out gradually. However, the exponential pace that is characteristic of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is requiring modifications to be absorbed and adapted within a generation accompanied by frequent incremental updates and revisions. Innovative learning models and modules that target incoming and existing working populations are being built out to respond to business-related requirements as new fields, disciplines, and roles appear and are established.

I talked to Anant Agarwal, CEO and Founder of edX, and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT about the situation for new workforce entrants and the future education of workers. He spoke of what he called “MOOC 2.0” as the next phase of evolution of this high-profile MOOC (Massively Open Online Course) platform and the strategic rationale and content of edX’s new MicroMasters program offerings.



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


From DSC:
We are moving towards providing up-to-date, relevant “streams of content” (which will in many cases represent unbundled content/courses). Mark my words, that’s the future that we’re heading for — and the future that we’ll need to successfully adapt to the new, exponential pace of change. Organizations offering such streams will be providing a valuable service in terms identifying, presenting, curating the most relevant, up-to-date content.











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