Bob Kegan, William and Miriam Meehan Research Professor in Adult Learning and Professional Development, Harvard Graduate School of Education:
The number of employees who are operating in more nonstandard, complex jobs is going to increase, while less complex work is going to be increasingly automated. The time it takes for people’s skills to become irrelevant will shrink. It used to be, “I got my skills in my 20s; I can hang on until 60.” It’s not going to be like that anymore. We’re going to live in an era of people finding their skills irrelevant at age 45, 40, 35. And there are going to be a great many people who are out of work. What are you going to do about that? Or is work going to essentially become an elite setting for more favored, privileged, complex people to live out meaningful lives? That’s a disturbing question. It’s hard for me to believe that we’re going to have a society in which half the people just don’t work. Work itself is intrinsically meaningful. People need to go to work every day.
New Skills Needed
Bror Saxberg, vice president of learning science, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative:
A lot of work that will continue to be of high value for people to do is tied to meaning making with other people. How does this decision, product, or service affect your life, your challenges, your family? The corollary is that we need to train everybody, early, on how to give meaning to other people’s challenges, work, skills, and needs to ensure they will have valuable work to do. And imagine how fun it would be to live in a world surrounded by people who are thinking professionally about your needs, not just theirs! This will require very intentional effort all through the growing-up years and beyond—it is not a thing you pick up the night before you start work.
Betsy Ziegler, chief innovation officer, Kellogg School of Management:
One of the things that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about is how we train our students to think of AI or the machine as a team member rather than as a competitive threat. A lot of the analyst work is being taken over by machines, for example, but that gives the MBA graduates access to higher-skilled work. I think there’s a competitive advantage to being human. Given that the level of ambiguity is amplifying and the rate of change is increasing, what do people have to be equipped with? What tools do they need? We don’t talk to them about that now. We don’t teach any of them how to be a leader in the organization that is managing contractor talent or that is responsible for this fluidity of work. We should.
Source: McKinsey & Company