“The world is now much more chaotic. It’s faster, and it’s continually changing as different factors come into play, whether it’s automation, which is a big one, or any of the other factors affecting the workplace. People, whether they’re already in the workplace or planning to enter the workplace, have to be prepared to be adaptive and to innovate. They are not going to be doing the same thing all the time. These jobs are going to morph into new things. you need a core set of skills to rely on that allow you to transcend boundaries and change.”
– Philip Gardner, Director of Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute
Scott Carlson, writer of Marxist scholars, resilience, and practical skills, just released a report for the Chronicle of Higher Education called “The Future of Work – How Colleges can Prepare Students for the Jobs Ahead.”
I read the report earlier this week and wanted to give my brain some time to chew on the findings, suggestions for next steps, and insightful quotes in the report. One week later, here goes.
Changing the way we integrate career centers into the college is necessary
“When parents were asked what aspects of the university most interested them, the campus center came in second to campus safety.” – Carlson
“Career services offices – once called ‘placement offices’ – have been around for about 100 years.” – Carlson
Colleges are not preparing students for the workplace
“Higher education must embrace its role as a gateway to the workforce.” – Scott Carlson
“All of the companies he applied for asked for experience, certifications, and other qualifications, and he had not gotten any of that in college.” – Mr. Darr, student
“If you did not seek the information for internships and career paths and plans, it wasn’t marketed.” – Mr. Darr
The center’s director of the Colorado State University “insists that the work of the career center needs to be integrated into the rest of what the university does.”
“The world of work will be much more chaotic in the future, and students should be trained to deal with the uncertainties that brings.” – Philip Gardner
“Instead of degrees, colleges will need to offer training in packages that are smaller, faster, and more relevant.” – Philip Gardner
“Many innovative career offices  are leading the way toward a new role: one that needs to use technology and other techniques to scale up its services, make connections to alumni to raise money and provide professional networks for students, and form partnerships throughout the campus to more seamlessly connect students to careers.” – Carlson
Demand for STEM majors is and will remain high, but opportunities to allow students to develop soft skills while still in college are desperately needed
“Lower-risk, real-world working situations can provide opportunities to allow students to learn some of these attributes. ‘You don’t teach initiative and resiliency. You just put people in situations and encourage them, and then watch how they react, how do they resolve failure.” – Philip Gardner
David Ong, the director of corporate recruiting at Maximus says, “Subject-matter expertise is highly teachable. It takes an awfully long time to teach somebody about taking initiative, or how to accept critical feedback.”
Marie Artim, the vice president of talent acquisition at Enterprise Holdings says, “Empathy, communication skills, flexibility, problem-solving skills, experience in working with teams of people – all of those skills end up being most important on the job.”
“Many of the managers noted that new, young employees opted for modes of communication that seemed inappropriate for the setting. For example, in a conflict situation, the employee might send an email or text to a colleague, rather than walk down the hall to talk it out. The ability to talk (and work) across divides in a workplace are critical, even in industries that are traditionally seen as top-down.” – Carlson
“More than one in three workers today is a millennial.” – Carlson
Brittany Palubiski, a manager of global university relations and talent acquisition at General Motors says “she and her colleagues are looking for technicians who can also think broadly about business strategy, push new ideas, and take the kinds of risks that distinguish leaders.”
Fully formed “T-shaped individuals” are required to integrate with increasingly multicultural workplace environments.
“Employers are actively seeking out graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, and students with that training will likely continue to be in demand in the future, even as colleges churn out more of them.” – Doug Webber
Philip Gardner is interested in building “T shaped” individuals. This means “They must have deep knowledge in a discipline and a system, forming the vertical line of the T, but also communication skills, curiosity, empathy, and other soft skills that allow them to relate to and interact with workers from other systems and disciplines.”
“Lawrence Katz, the economics historian has talked about the hollowing-out effect of technology. It does two things: It either requires more skills, or it decreases skills to a lower level and, or course, lower wages.” – Gardner
“If you can’t adapt your work to the context you’re in, and you’re limited within your own context, then you’ve got problems.” – Tim Brown, IDEO
Burning Glass Technologies, a company that “analyzes the labor market by collecting data on job postings,” sees “more employers asking for marketing managers who also have experience building databases or doing data analytics.”
“As the job market becomes more dynamic, and as employers look for increasingly unnatural combinations in skills, the most important talent will be harder and harder to find.” – Carlson
“Jobs that feature skills that require complex human interactions will remain in demand.” – Carlson
“It’s less about the major, he believes, and more about picking the people who present well, communicate clearly, show creativity, or are well connected – traits they began developing long before they showed up at college.” – Doug Webber, assistant professor of economics at Temple University
“Evidence suggests that the biggest wage gains will go to people who combine STEM training and technical skills with the kinds of soft skills often thought to be the hallmark of liberal-arts majors.” – Carlson
Robots are replacing humans in the jobs that are easiest to automate.
“Computers, robots, and artificial intelligence will continue to upend, eliminate, and create jobs in the years to come, in ways we may not yet fully understand.” – Carlson
“Machines are used to perform specific tasks. And if your job consists of a series of tasks, all of which can be automated, obviously you’re at risk.” – Jerry Kaplan author of Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.
People need to work in order to feel like they are contributing members of society
“One in six men is not working, and they are often not counted in unemployment statistics because they have dropped out of the work force.” – Carlson
“People who have nothing to do or nothing to think about may fill their lives with destructive activities, like drugs and crime. This makes me nervous. Meaningful life is one where you are useful, where you are needed.” – Moshe Vardi, professor of computer science at Rice University
Employers are saying that new workers are not SOCIALLY prepared like their previous generations:
“Recent college graduates, employers and researchers say, may not display the maturity, initiative, communication skills, and workplace etiquette that would allow them to excel in a corporate environment.” – Carlson
“Where new college graduates years ago had time to mature in the workplace through their early 20s, ‘the pace and skills required when you hit the ground are higher now.’ It’s work attitudes and work behaviors, and personal characteristics like resiliency, initiative, and grit. If we just focus on skills and competencies, we miss half of what needs to be done.” – Philip Gardner
Leverage technology to increase precious time reserved for face to face counseling
“I also think you will see a greater emphasis on creating communities – communities of students, communities of students, communities of alumni, communities of recruiting organizations – and creating communities for people to interact in different ways. Social media will be one of the main vehicles for those communities.” – Contomanolis
“Ask the admissions office what their two biggest deals are when they talk to parents and students: Future and Finances win hands down every time.” – Podany
There are only 2 ways forward
1) More closely align their career centers with alumni organizations.
“The office embraces the employer, not the student, as its primary customer.” – Carlson
“It’s very clear alumni helping students is part of the success mix.” – Contomanolis
“Colgate University moved career services from student affairs – where most college career offices preside – to alumni affairs and development, to put an external, networking emphasis on career-services operations. Colgate puts on events like Sophomore Connections, a three-day conference, held during winter break in January where more than 100 Colgate alumni return to campus to tell sophomores about their professions and how to land jobs in them.” – Carlson
2) Push career training deeper into the academic function of their institutions:
Part of it is “recruiting people around the university to help provide career training for students.” – Carlson
“Academic learning and experiential learning are so woven together. The ideal dream would be for career services to be ubiquitous. It’s just part of the fabric and it’s blended in, but it means that people have to be more attuned to learning and the advances in learning, and how to frame learning outcomes that attain both academic and professional objectives. They’re not going to be able to just do the career fairs and event planning. They’re going to have to understand pedagogy and curriculum development as it’s evolving with technology.” – Gardner
“Learning to make things is inherently experiential, as compared to learning about things, which is much more cerebral.” – Richard K. Miller, president of Olin College of Engineering
“Academe has long been suspicious of, and even hostile to, notions of vocationalism in higher education. But the imperative for higher-education institutions should be clear: training for life and training for work do not have to be separate activities. Colleges can, and should embrace both. Given our need for both a strong workforce and an educated citizenry, the role of higher education is more vital than ever.” – Carlson
I still don’t know which way I would suggest going based on the 2 options. Perhaps the answer will get clearer as the points made have time to set in.
I hope after reading through this list of trends, proposed solutions, and insightful quotes from the report, you have a better understanding of the current state of work in 2017.
I’m still sifting through some of the things I’ve learned after reading this report. We’re planning to discuss this tomorrow. I’m hoping that by putting all of this information together, then shuffling it into common themes, more insights will come along over the next few weeks.
Contact me if you have any questions!