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The Future of Work

INTEGRITY BEAT - Henry J. Schumacher (The Freeman) - October 9, 2020 - 12:00am

My mind is still battling with the issues we are facing on a daily basis:

Lockdowns, social distancing, work from home, consumer behavior changes, business closures, lay-offs, increases in poverty, companies being on survival mode, cash is kept for survival and only a few are hiring.

If you are a K-12 student or a new college graduate and you read the news ‘1 million young workers at risk of losing jobs in the Philippines’, how desperate will you get in finding a job? How do we help these young people? How do we get the message across to them that there is a future for them? How do we bridge the situation today with so many young people trying to find learning opportunities and jobs with the exciting opportunities the ‘Future of Work’ is expected to offer?

The World Economic Forum (WEF) identified four business models which they deemed are ideal given the changes occurring. The models are based on their observation of companies (from small to large) who have adapted digital networks, technology platforms, and established an innovative way of building their network. The four models identified include:

Asset builders. Models which are built using one’s physical capital or companies who market or lease physical assets;

Service providers. Use of skilled workers wherein companies help in developing their skills to provide services to clients or customers;

Technology creators. This model delivers ideas or intellectual capital these industries include software, data analytics, biotechnology, and intellectual property;

Network Orchestrators. This model (which is quite new and is getting more traction in recent years) are firms who create platforms to allow people to network and build relationships otherwise known as “network capital”. Firms using this model service their customers by allowing them to use their platform to interact, transact, collaborate, communicate, build relationships etc.

Luckily, we have examples of companies in the Philippines that are active in these four models, with, as we know only too well, the biggest number in the ‘service providers.’

It has become apparent that a stronger Industry-Academe-Government linkage is necessary as the Philippines shift into dissecting the Future of Work. This not only puts education in a context but also ensures that the education system remains relevant for the future of the workforce. This also feeds into the necessity of breaking down silos in education, governance, and private sector in order to feed into each other for the benefit of all stakeholders involved.

The benefits are numerous especially through the enhancement of research and innovation through joint research projects, delivery of innovative commercial products, and significant improvements in the teaching and learning process through supplementary experiences such as internships, apprenticeships, and hands-on training. Most educators and the industry sectors are on the same page when it comes to a collaboration and improving the curriculum and practice paradigm at an applied level.

But we also have to be honest that educating people for the Future of Work will require drastic changes: Gone are the days when a person’s life trajectory is very structured with carefully laid out plans before them as with the previous generation. What education should be doing is preparing graduates to navigate the VUCA world; VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It describes the situation of constant, unpredictable change that is now the norm in certain industries and areas of the business world. Which means, it is more and more likely that gone are the days when memorization and specialized skills training is prime. Students need to be comfortable in uncertaintyand be able to understand multiple contexts and analyze it so that they would be able to navigate their future more effectively.

Of course, there are some jobs that will be here to stay (like service jobs in healthcare and hospitality) but even that will require a higher level of thinking and understanding in order to keep up with new machines and technologies.

I really need feedback of what else can be done NOW to provide young people looking at being educated for employment through learning by doing, and college graduates to find a job, so that we provide these ‘tomorrow’ people with the perspective that there is a future for them.

For the needed feedback, you may contact me at hjschumacher59@gmail.com .

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