I’ll admit that listening to consultants talk doesn’t strike me as good podcast content. My podcast list is overflowing with no shortage of new recommendations. Anything I add has to compete with mighty fine podcasts like 2 Dope Queens, On the Media, Note to Self, The Read, Reply All, and Teaching and Learning in HigherEd. So I was torn when I learned that McKinsey puts out a Future of Work podcast. Grant it, this is my favorite professional subject. But there’s so much fluff in future of work circles and not enough meat. Fun fact: being a futurist doesn’t mean you have to be right. You just need research chops, a regular content production schedule, a brand with the phrase “future of work”, and an audience who will listen. It’s not rocket science.
So I was skeptical. But the McKinsey Global Institute puts in the hard work that you’d expect for a top global consulting firm. Their reports on the future of work are insightful and meaty. Their podcast is no different. I was pleasantly surprised. And by pleasantly surprised I mean I was taking loads of notes and couldn’t stop listening. It’s not terribly entertaining and feels a bit like watching CSPAN. But the podcast brings their valuable research on the future of work to life. It also broadens their research (hopefully) to audiences beyond MBA students and upper management. Anyone who is curious about how their career is going to shift should give it a shot. It pairs well with public transit rides.
I listened to their most recent episode, How Will Automation Affect Jobs, Skills, and Wages?, and could have quoted the whole damn podcast. I held back. Here are some of my favorite meaty bits.
On lifelong learning from Susan Lund, a partner McKinsey Global Institute:
It’s something that has been a bit of a mantra in the educational field. Everyone is going to have to be a student for life and embark on lifelong learning. The fact is right now it’s still mainly a slogan. Even within jobs and companies there’s not lifelong training. In fact what we see in corporate training data at least in the United States, is that companies are spending less. As we know right now people expect that they get their education in the early 20s or late 20s and then they’re done. They’re going to go off and work for 40, 50 years. And that model of getting education up front and working for many decades, without ever going through formal or informal training again is clearly not going to be the reality for the next generation.
Honestly I could quote so much from this podcast. Instead of the common “robots are going to take our jobs” narrative, they dive deeper into the subject, discussing how occupations will shift and what that means for workers. I’ll just quote this entire response on acquiring new skills, again from Susan Lund:
“We categorized 800 occupations into 58 categories. This is our shorthand way of showing how work might shift between them. For instance there’s a whole classification around customer interaction jobs. And that includes cashiers, call service representatives, etc. By grouping occupations into these categories we can start talking about which ones are growing and which ones are declining. So that number of somewhere between 75 million and 375 million people [around the world] may need to switch occupational category, means that they’re in a set of occupations that are actually shrinking in number. Some of those people are going to have shift to one of the growing occupational categories.
This is a big shift. It’s different from saying I’m one type of specialty nurse and now I need to be a different type. That would be a shift within an occupational category. Here, the changes we are talking about are very significant. It’s about somebody who may have been working in trucking or manufacturing learning to do something entirely different. Possibly a job in construction or healthcare or other types of things. This will require more than simply applying for that job. It will require some level of formal training to learn the new skills to become qualified to get that new job. This will be the defining challenge of our generation, is creating the programs and tools and opportunities for someone who is mid-career with a mortgage, with children who can’t afford to go back to school for two years to get an associates degree or four years to get a bachelors, but helping that person get the bare minimum of skills they need to get their foot in the door in an entirely different occupation and start off on a career ladder in an entirely new direction.”
You have to teach people how to become lifelong learners. You have to change the old mindset. You have to teach them how to make occupational shifts. You have to prepare them with practical advice and skills.
This is why I founded FutureMe School. We have to reinvent old career narratives and train people to adapt to multiple occupational changes over a lifetime. Which is exactly what we’re doing at FutureMe School.