“I voted yes to go on strike to ensure my job isn’t outsourced to a robot,” said Chad Neanover, a prep cook at the Margaritaville, said.“We know technology is coming, but workers shouldn’t be pushed out or left behind. Casino companies should ensure that technology is harnessed to improve the quality and safety in the workplace, not as a way to completely eliminate our jobs.”
The article also cites a survey from Cognizant that reported “three-fourths of hotel operators said AI-based systems would become mainstream by 2025.”
Today I tried the Google trick to read a WSJ article, Seven Jobs Robots Will Expand, whose title is clickbait for future of work people like myself. Most of WSJ is behind a paywall but normally you can access an article through a simple Google search. But it turns out WSJ closed their Google loophole some time back. In the course of researching why they did that (to get more subscribers obvi) and new methods to get around the paywall (there aren’t any) I found something far more interesting. WSJ has applied a machine learning model to predict whether or not you’ll subscribe to their paper. Based on that score they’ll decide whether or not to show you the article you requested. Visitors are a categorized into hot, warm or cold. More on this move from NiemenLab:
Non-subscribed visitors to WSJ.com now each receive a propensity score based on more than 60 signals, such as whether the reader is visiting for the first time, the operating system they’re using, the device they’re reading on, what they chose to click on, and their location (plus a whole host of other demographic info it infers from that location). Using machine learning to inform a more flexible paywall takes away guesswork around how many stories, or what kinds of stories, to let readers read for free, and whether readers will respond to hitting paywall by paying for access or simply leaving.
This is wild. I’m off to go play with new browsers to see if I can get that clickbait article (this is the only time I ever use sad Safari).
What tweaks could we make to the college curriculum that would help students prepare for the changing workforce? This quote from the article, The Global University Employability Ranking 2017, at the Times Higher Education, offers a clever solution:
“The way organisations have to work these days needs to be very fluid. In that kind of world it is important to have people who are really flexible, able to create networks within their organisations and very comfortable working in virtual teams and particularly [what we call] leading beyond authority: not necessarily having to get things done because they are in a team that has a boss,” he says.
But he is “not sure” that the implications of this are “well understood by the academic world and, therefore, when we throw a new graduate into [work] it can be quite overwhelming [for the graduate]”. One solution, he suggests, is for university courses to have more group projects, with assessment focused on the process that the participants go through, rather than the outcome.
Flourishing in such an environment requires “reflection and understanding”, and especially learning from mistakes, Saha says. He is sceptical that this aspect of professional competence is well explored in universities currently, but “in the working world, that is the bit that can be make or break”.
He’s spot on in his assessment and solution. Focusing on group work and assessing participants on their process, instead of outcomes, could go a long way to help students identify their strengths, weaknesses, and improve their leadership and collaboration skills. What really struck me in that sentence is that focusing on process, rather than outcomes, is the opposite of American business culture. American learning and working culture is focused specifically on outcomes – we’re obsessed with assessing programs. Managers evaluate employees based on their results, not collaboration.
I’ve never in my work life been on a team that was evaluated on how well they worked on a project together. It’s almost a revolutionary suggestion.
And if so, who do you send it to?
Food for thought as I look at the changing ways we get jobs and how traditional career education hasn’t caught.
Universities are now collecting loads of data on students from physical whereabouts, to courses progress, to when they get online, to even what they do when they’re online.
The president of Purdue penned an op-ed to challenge higher education (and hopefully edtech) to think critically about how we use students’ data especially when it comes to behavioral nudging, lest we end up with a Chinese-like social rating system:
Somewhere between connecting a struggling student with a tutor and penalizing for life a person insufficiently enthusiastic of a reigning regime, judgment calls will be required and lines of self-restraint drawn. People serene in their assurance that they know what is best for others will have to stop and ask themselves, or be asked by the rest of us, on what authority they became the Nudgers and the Great Approvers. Many of us will have to stop and ask whether our good intentions are carrying us past boundaries where privacy and individual autonomy should still prevail.
Sixty-two percent of executives believe they will need to retrain or replace more than a quarter of their workforce between now and 2023 due to advancing automation and digitization.
As for solutions, 82 percent of executives at companies with more than $100 million in annual revenues believe retraining and reskilling must be at least half of the answer to addressing their skills gap. Within that consensus, though, were clear regional differences. Fully 94 percent of those surveyed in Europe insisted the answer would either be an equal mix of hiring and retraining or mainly retraining versus a strong but less resounding 62 percent in this camp in the United States. By contrast, 35 percent of Americans thought the challenge would have to be met mainly or exclusively by hiring new talent, compared to just 7 percent in this camp in Europe (Exhibit 3). – Retraining and reskilling workers in the age of automation, McKinsey
Two thoughts from this report:
- Do executives think they need to upskill? Maybe their inability to see the training needs, new jobs, and workforce of the future is shaped by their inability to reskill.
- Americans who think their companies are going to invest in them and their future career are mistaken.
My love (obsession?) for career education is deep. I could talk about how we train people for the job search and the future of work for hours (and sometimes I do). I love listening to peoples’ work lives. But I know career education isn’t the most entertaining subject. As much as I try there’s only so much I can do to transform traditional career advice like “research all the companies”and “LinkedIn is your power tool” into engaging content. Enter, gifs. I love gifs. My newsletters have them. My courses have them. Gifs help me liven up some of the driest parts of my career content (and really, when I say dry I mean desert-dry…)
Today I hit a major milestone in my gif appreciation: I made my own.
I teach people how to build soft skills, specifically negotiation, networking, and public speaking. Unfortunately developing these three skills make people feel incredibly uncomfortable. To deal with discomfort I drive home this motto: embrace awkward. Awkwardness is to be expected when we try new new things. Awkwardness happens with difficult conversations. Stepping outside our comfort zone is bound to be awkward. Avoiding awkwardness is futile. Instead, we should embrace it and power the the fuck through it.
Power-the-fuck-through-it doesn’t make for snappy, corporate friendly workshop copy, so Embrace Awkward is my go to motto.
Anyhow, I’ve enshrined my favorite career advice in a lovely gif for my upcoming course, How to Ask for a Raise.
My day’s work is complete.
I haven’t even started my online course. I just sits there, purchased. I am no closer to upskilling than I was when I wrote my professional new years resolutions post dedicating this year to upskilling.
What motivates people to upskill? Money? Fear (of job loss, irrelevance)? Curiosity? Passion for the subject?
Seems like an excellent research project.
I’m still trying to find my motivation, clearly.
I struggle with upskilling. I’ve failed out of more Coursera courses than I can count. I struggle with procrastination and attention (it’s the online course vs. the entire internet vs. Twitter vs. Instagram). Five ago I completed a Financial Accounting MOOC from Wharton just to see if I could do it (I did). Since then I haven’t managed to make it through a coding class or a data analytics specialization, despite desperately wanting those skills and being quite curious about them).
I’ve signed up for his ultimate course. As a course designer I want to see his instructional design approach. As a career coach, I want to understand the process people go through as they try to upskill, so I can build better courses to help them do it. As a person who needs to get her shit together and upskill, I want to upgrade my technical abilities and build interactive websites.
So here’s to 2018, the year of the upskill!