The future of work in America — from mckinsey.com by Jacques Bughin,  James Manyika. and Jonathan Woetzel | July 2019

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Local economies across the country have been on diverging trajectories for years, and ***they are entering the automation age from different starting points.*** Our view incorporates the current state of local labor markets as well as the jobs that could be lost and gained in the decade ahead.

 

 

The US labor market looks markedly different today than it did two decades ago. It has been reshaped by dramatic events like the Great Recession but also by a quieter ongoing evolution in the mix and location of jobs. In the decade ahead, the next wave of technology may accelerate the pace of change. Millions of jobs could be phased out even as new ones are created. More broadly, the day-to-day nature of work could change for nearly everyone as intelligent machines become fixtures in the American workplace.

The labor market could become even more polarized. Workers with a high school degree or less are four times as likely as those with a bachelor’s degree to be displaced by automation. Reflecting more limited access to education, Hispanic workers are most at risk of displacement, followed by African Americans. Jobs held by nearly 15 million workers ages 18–34 may be automated, so young people will need new career paths to gain an initial foothold in the working world. Roughly 11.5 million workers over age 50 could also be displaced and face the challenge of making late-career moves. The hollowing out of middle wage work could continue.

The future of work is not just about how many jobs could be lost and gained. Technology is altering the day-to-day mix of activities associated with more and more jobs over time. The occupational mix of the economy is changing, and the demand for skills is changing along with it. Employers will need to manage large-scale workforce transformations that could involve redefining business processes and workforce needs, retraining and moving some people into new roles, and creating programs for continuous learning. This could be an opportunity to upgrade jobs and make them more rewarding. The choices that employers make will ripple through the communities in which they operate.

 

The need for a next gen learning platform is quickly approaching us!
Either that, or colleges and universities better get FAR more
responsive/nimble, and focus FAR more on lifelong learning.
This is not a joke.

This is not just text on a web page.
This is a future that’s barreling
at us at amazingly fast speeds.
A new chapter is coming at us quickly.

 

 
 

Amazon pledges $700 million to teach its workers to code — from wired.com by Louise Matsakis

Excerpt:

Amazon announced Thursday that it will spend up to $700 million over the next six years retraining 100,000 of its US employees, mostly in technical skills like software engineering and IT support. Amazon is already one of the largest employers in the country, with almost 300,000 workers (and many more contractors) and it’s particularly hungry for more new talent. The company currently has more than 20,000 vacant US roles, over half of which are at its headquarters in Seattle. Meanwhile, the US economy is booming, and there are now more open jobs than there are unemployed people who can fill them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

Against that backdrop, Amazon’s jobs skills efforts provide some reassurance that—in theory at least—you could be retrained into a new role when the robots arrive.

 

From the announcement:

Based on a review of its workforce and analysis of U.S. hiring, Amazon’s fastest growing highly skilled jobs over the last five years include data mapping specialist, data scientist, solutions architect and business analyst, as well as logistics coordinator, process improvement manager and transportation specialist within our customer fulfillment network.

 

Also see:

  • Amazon to Invest $700M to Retrain 100,000 Workers for New Jobs — from pcmag.com by Michael Kan Icon
    ‘There is a greater need for technical skills in the workplace than ever before. Amazon is no exception,’ the company said. The goal is to ‘upskill’ one third of Amazon’s total work force by 2025 through free retraining programs.
 

Reflections on “Clay Shirky on Mega-Universities and Scale” [Christian]

Clay Shirky on Mega-Universities and Scale — from philonedtech.com by Clay Shirky
[This was a guest post by Clay Shirky that grew out of a conversation that Clay and Phil had about IPEDS enrollment data. Most of the graphs are provided by Phil.]

Excerpts:

Were half a dozen institutions to dominate the online learning landscape with no end to their expansion, or shift what Americans seek in a college degree, that would indeed be one of the greatest transformations in the history of American higher education. The available data, however, casts doubt on that idea.

Though much of the conversation around mega-universities is speculative, we already know what a mega-university actually looks like, one much larger than any university today. It looks like the University of Phoenix, or rather it looked like Phoenix at the beginning of this decade, when it had 470,000 students, the majority of whom took some or all of their classes online. Phoenix back then was six times the size of the next-largest school, Kaplan, with 78,000 students, and nearly five times the size of any university operating today.

From that high-water mark, Phoenix has lost an average of 40,000 students every year of this decade.

 

From DSC:
First of all, I greatly appreciate both Clay’s and Phil’s thought leadership and their respective contributions to education and learning through the years. I value their perspectives and their work.  Clay and Phil offer up a great article here — one worth your time to read.  

The article made me reflect on what I’ve been building upon and tracking for the last decade — a next generation ***PLATFORM*** that I believe will represent a powerful piece of a global learning ecosystem. I call this vision, “Learning from the Living [Class] Room.” Though the artificial intelligence-backed platform that I’m envisioning doesn’t yet fully exist — this new era and type of learning-based platform ARE coming. The emerging signs, technologies, trends — and “fingerprints”of it, if you will — are beginning to develop all over the place.

Such a platform will:

  • Be aimed at the lifelong learner.
  • Offer up major opportunities to stay relevant and up-to-date with one’s skills.
  • Offer access to the program offerings from many organizations — including the mega-universities, but also, from many other organizations that are not nearly as large as the mega-universities.
  • Be reliant upon human teachers, professors, trainers, subject matter experts, but will be backed up by powerful AI-based technologies/tools. For example, AI-based tools will pulse-check the open job descriptions and the needs of business and present the top ___ areas to go into (how long those areas/jobs last is anyone’s guess, given the exponential pace of technological change).

Below are some quotes that I want to comment on:

Not nothing, but not the kind of environment that will produce an educational Amazon either, especially since the top 30 actually shrank by 0.2% a year.

 

Instead of an “Amazon vs. the rest” dynamic, online education is turning into something much more widely adopted, where the biggest schools are simply the upper end of a continuum, not so different from their competitors, and not worth treating as members of a separate category.

 

Since the founding of William and Mary, the country’s second college, higher education in the U.S. hasn’t been a winner-take-all market, and it isn’t one today. We are not entering a world where the largest university operates at outsized scale, we’re leaving that world; 

 

From DSC:
I don’t see us leaving that world at all…but that’s not my main reflection here. Instead, I’m not focusing on how large the mega-universities will become. When I speak of a forthcoming Walmart of Education or Amazon of Education, what I have in mind is a platform…not one particular organization.

Consider that the vast majority of Amazon’s revenues come from products that other organizations produce. They are a platform, if you will. And in the world of platforms (i.e., software), it IS a winner take all market. 

Bill Gates reflects on this as well in this recent article from The Verge:

“In the software world, particularly for platforms, these are winner-take-all markets.

So it’s all about a forthcoming platform — or platforms. (It could be more than one platform. Consider Apple. Consider Microsoft. Consider Google. Consider Facebook.)

But then the question becomes…would a large amount of universities (and other types of organizations) be willing to offer up their courses on a platform? Well, consider what’s ALREADY happening with FutureLearn:

Finally…one more excerpt from Clay’s article:

Eventually the new ideas lose their power to shock, and end up being widely copied. Institutional transformation starts as heresy and ends as a section in the faculty handbook. 

From DSC:
This is a great point. Reminds me of this tweet from Fred Steube (and I added a piece about Western Telegraph):

 

Some things to reflect upon…for sure.

 

‘Robots’ Are Not ‘Coming for Your Job’—Management Is — from gizmodo.com by Brian Merchant; with a special thanks going out to Keesa Johnson for her posting this out on LinkedIn

A robot is not ‘coming for’, or ‘stealing’ or ‘killing’ or ‘threatening’ to take away your job. Management is.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

At first glance, this might like a nitpicky semantic complaint, but I assure you it’s not—this phrasing helps, and has historically helped, mask the agency behind the *decision* to automate jobs. And this decision is not made by ‘robots,’ but management. It is a decision most often made with the intention of saving a company or institution money by reducing human labor costs (though it is also made in the interests of bolstering efficiency and improving operations and safety). It is a human decision that ultimately eliminates the job.

 

From DSC:
I’ve often said that if all the C-Suite cares about is maximizing profits — instead of thinking about their fellow humankind and society as a whole —  we’re in big trouble.

If the thinking goes, “Heh — it’s just business!” <– Again, then we’re in big trouble here.

Just because we can, should we? Many people should be reflecting upon this question…and not just members of the C-Suite.

 

 

 

Online directory of college alternatives launches — from educationdive.com by Natalie Schwartz

Excerpt / Dive Brief:

  • Prospective students interested in nondegree credentials can look to a new online directory of more than 200 companies and other organizations providing apprenticeships, boot camps, short-term online courses and other credentials.
  • Called Alternatives to College, the directory was launched as a joint effort between leaders at higher ed investment firm University Ventures and WhatsBestForMe, a platform for applicants to connect with postsecondary education providers.
  • “The last-mile training sector moves quickly,” said Cassidy Leventhal, a vice president at University Ventures, in the announcement, adding that the directory will provide an “online ‘home'” for nondegree options.
 

Introduction: Leading the social enterprise—Reinvent with a human focus
2019 Global Human Capital Trends
— from deloitte.com by Volini?, Schwartz? ?, Roy?, Hauptmann, Van Durme, Denny, and Bersin

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Learning in the flow of life. The number-one trend for 2019 is the need for organizations to change the way people learn; 86 percent of respondents cited this as an important or very important issue. It’s not hard to understand why. Evolving work demands and skills requirements are creating an enormous demand for new skills and capabilities, while a tight labor market is making it challenging for organizations to hire people from outside. Within this context, we see three broader trends in how learning is evolving: It is becoming more integrated with work; it is becoming more personal; and it is shifting—slowly—toward lifelong models. Effective reinvention along these lines requires a culture that supports continuous learning, incentives that motivate people to take advantage of learning opportunities, and a focus on helping individuals identify and develop new, needed skills.

 

What if the future of work starts with high school — from gettingsmart.com by Heather McGowan
The work of the future will require a robust system of lifelong learning and high school may just be the fulcrum in that system, best positioned to make the necessary profound changes across the system.

Excerpts:

Many have approached the challenge of rethinking high school and the imperative to do so continues to grow. There are a number of efforts now underway that look promising because they are not simply about what is taught but how. These efforts put the student at the center with the responsibility for his or her own learning.

Whatever we decide to call it,  to thrive in this fourth industrial revolution, where technology can assume many of our routine cognitive tasks, we need a robust system of life-long learning that begins with a reimagined high school to establish a strong foundation of learning agility and adaptability.

 

 

 

 

 

Report: Over 60% of college students face hunger or housing insecurity — from educationdive.com by James Paterson

Excerpt:

Seven out of 10 students at two-year colleges and six out of 10 students at four-year colleges indicated that they faced food or housing insecurity sometime in the last 12 months, according to The Hope Center’s latest #RealCollege report, which surveyed almost 86,000 students last fall.

 

Also see:

  • Tuition or Dinner? Nearly Half of College Students Surveyed in a New Report Are Going Hungry — from nytimes.com by Kaya Laterman
    Many routinely skip meals and take ‘poverty naps’ because they cannot afford groceries. Campus food pantries are helping, but are they enough?
    Excerpt:
    Although the college food-pantry movement is well underway, as there are now over 700 members at the College and University Food Bank Alliance, efforts have recently expanded to include redistributing leftover food from dining halls and catered events, making students eligible for food stamps and other benefits, and perhaps most important, changing national and state education funding to cover living expenses, not just tuition.
 

From DSC:
The following item is especially meant for students as well as those who haven’t tried to find a job in recent years.

Job search in the age of artificial intelligence – 5 practical tips — from forbes.com  by Bernard Marr

Excerpt:

If you haven’t searched for a job in recent years, things have changed significantly and will continue to evolve thanks to artificial intelligence (AI). According to a Korn Ferry Global survey, 63% of respondents said AI had altered the way recruiting happens in their organization. Not only do candidates have to get past human gatekeepers when they are searching for a new job, but they also have to pass the screening of artificial intelligence that continues to become more sophisticated. Recruiting and hiring new employees is an expensive endeavor for organizations, so they want to do all that’s possible to find candidates who will make valuable long-term employees for a good return on their recruitment investment.

 

 

Five Principles for Thinking Like a Futurist — from er.educause.edu by Marina Gorbis

Excerpt:

In 2018 we celebrated the fifty-year anniversary of the founding of the Institute for the Future (IFTF). No other futures organization has survived for this long; we’ve actually survived our own forecasts! In these five decades we learned a lot, and we still believe—even more strongly than before—that systematic thinking about the future is absolutely essential for helping people make better choices today, whether you are an individual or a member of an educational institution or government organization. We view short-termism as the greatest threat not only to organizations but to society as a whole.

In my twenty years at the Institute, I’ve developed five core principles for futures thinking:

  • Forget about predictions.
  • Focus on signals.*
  • Look back to see forward.
  • Uncover patterns.*
  • Create a community.

 

* From DSC:
I have a follow up thought regarding those bullet points about signals and patterns. With today’s exponential pace of technological change, I have asserted for several years now that our students — and all of us really — need to be skilled in pulse-checking the relevant landscapes around us. That’s why I’m a big fan of regularly tapping into — and contributing towards — streams of content. Subscribing to RSS feeds, following organizations and/or individuals on Twitter, connecting with people on LinkedIn, etc. Doing so will help us identify trends, patterns, and the signals that Marina talks about in her article.

It reminds me of the following graphic from January 2017:

 

LinkedIn: 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer for this reason—and it’s not a raise — from cnbc.com by Abigail Hess

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

But according to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94 percent of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it simply invested in helping them ***learn.***

 

Is Thomas Frey right? “…by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet.”

From a fairly recent e-newsletter from edsurge.com — though I don’t recall the exact date (emphasis DSC):

New England is home to some of the most famous universities in the world. But the region has also become ground zero for the demographic shifts that promise to disrupt higher education.

This week saw two developments that fit the narrative. On Monday, Southern Vermont College announced that it would shut its doors, becoming the latest small rural private college to do so. Later that same day, the University of Massachusetts said it would start a new online college aimed at a national audience, noting that it expects campus enrollments to erode as the number of traditional college-age students declines in the coming years.

“Make no mistake—this is an existential threat to entire sectors of higher education,” said UMass president Marty Meehan in announcing the online effort.

The approach seems to parallel the U.S. retail sector, where, as a New York Times piece outlines this week, stores like Target and WalMart have thrived by building online strategies aimed at competing with Amazon, while stores like Gap and Payless, which did little to move online, are closing stores. Of course, college is not like any other product or service, and plenty of campuses are touting the richness of the experience that students get by actually coming to a campus. And it’s not clear how many colleges can grow online to a scale that makes their investments pay off.

 

“It’s predicted that over the next several years, four to five major national players with strong regional footholds will be established. We intend to be one of them.”

University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan

 

 

From DSC:
That last quote from UMass President Marty Meehan made me reflect upon the idea of having one or more enormous entities that will provide “higher education” in the future. I wonder if things will turn out to be that we’ll have more lifelong learning providers and platforms in the future — with the idea of a 60-year curriculum being an interesting idea that may come into fruition.

Long have I predicted that such an enormous entity would come to pass. Back in 2008, I named it the Forthcoming Walmart of Education. But then as the years went by, I got bumbed out on some things that Walmart was doing, and re-branded it the Forthcoming Amazon.com of Higher Education. We’ll see how long that updated title lasts — but you get the point. In fact, the point aligns very nicely with what futurist Thomas Frey has been predicting for years as well:

“I’ve been predicting that by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet,” Frey, the senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute think tank, tells Business Insider. (source)

I realize that education doesn’t always scale well…but I’m thinking that how people learn in the future may be different than how we did things in the past…communities of practice comes to mind…as does new forms of credentialing…as does cloud-based learner profiles…as does the need for highly efficient, cost-effective, and constant opportunities/means to reinvent oneself.

Also see:

 

 

Addendum:

74% of consumers go to Amazon when they’re ready to buy something. That should be keeping retailers up at night. — from cnbc.com

Key points (emphasis DSC)

  • Amazon remains a looming threat for some of the biggest retailers in the country — like Walmart, Target and Macy’s.
  • When consumers are ready to buy a specific product, nearly three-quarters of them, or 74 percent, are going straight to Amazon to do it, according to a new study by Feedvisor.
  • By the end of this year, Amazon is expected to account for 52.4 percent of the e-commerce market in the U.S., up from 48 percent in 2018.

 

“In New England, there will be between 32,000 and 54,000 fewer college-aged students just seven years from now,” Meehan said. “That means colleges and universities will have too much capacity and not enough demand at a time when the economic model in higher education is already straining under its own weight.” (Marty Meehan at WBUR)

 

 

4 key tech strategies for the survival of the small liberal arts college — from campustechnology.com by Kellie B. Campbell
In a recent study on the use of technology to reduce academic costs in liberal arts colleges, four distinct themes emerged: the strategic role of IT; the importance of data; the potential of alternative education delivery modes; and opportunities for institutional partnerships. Here’s how IT leaders at these small colleges understand the future of their institutions.

Excerpt:

In this study, the flexibility of the semi-constructed interview format resulted in a fascinating level of honesty and bluntness from participants. In particular, participants’ language changed when they were asked to take off their professional hat and consider a new point of view — it was a chance to be vulnerable and honest. What was probably most interesting was that almost everyone signaled that the status quo is not sustainable. Something in the higher education model has to change for institutions to stay open, yet many lack a strategy for effecting change. Even if they do have a strategy in place on the business side, many are hesitant to dive into analysis and change on the academic side of the institution.

Institutions simply cannot continue to nibble at the edges of change. Significant change is needed in order to sustain the financial model of higher education. The ideas for doing so are out there, though the work must be guided by the institutional mission and consider new models for delivering education. CIOs and their departments can play an important role in that work — providing infrastructure, data, access, services and ideas — but institutional leadership at large needs to understand IT’s strategic role and position the organization to make that impact.

When participants were able to think about the “what if” question — what if the institution were forced to drastically cut academic costs — several had detailed, “out there” ideas that might not be traditionally welcomed into higher education cultures. Yet a number of participants were not being asked by their institutions to think about such ideas. The question is, if everyone agrees that the status quo is not sustainable, why aren’t they thinking about it?

 

 

How MIT’s Mini Cheetah Can Help Accelerate Robotics Research — from spectrum.ieee.org by Evan Ackerman
Sangbae Kim talks to us about the new Mini Cheetah quadruped and his future plans for the robot

 

 

From DSC:
Sorry, but while the video/robot is incredible, a feeling in the pit of my stomach makes me reflect upon what’s likely happening along these lines in the militaries throughout the globe…I don’t mean to be a fear monger, but rather a realist.

 

 

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