Author: Heather McGowan
This is part one of a four-part series on the changing shape of employment, the emergence of the collaborative economy, and the potential impacts on higher education. Insights for this piece came in part from the recent Thomas Friedman Next New World Summit of thought leaders in education, technology, entrepreneurship, and consulting. Here are links to Jobs are Over Part 2, Part 3, and an interview with Future of Work Researcher Stowe Boyd based upon the series.
The era of using education to get a job, to build a pension, to then retire is over. Not only is average is over and the world flat, but this is the end of employment, as we once knew it. The future is one of life-long learning, serial short- term employment engagements, and the creation of a portfolio of passive and active income generation through monetization of excess capacity and marketable talents.
Where did this change begin? From 1981 to 2001, the U.S. economy experienced the beginning of middle-class income stagnation with most job growth focused in lower-paying jobs (evidenced by a flattening of median household income vs. GDP). Starting in 2001, even that job growth all but disappeared as companies began outsourcing middle-skill labor – anything that is routine either mentally or physically – to history. Work was automated, digitized, robotized, and/or broken into job fragments that can be supplied from anywhere in the world. Since the great recession of 2008 both GDP growth and labor productivity have risen while private employment has declined – rapidly[i]. This is new normal, employment as we’ve known it, is over.
This was one of the my key takeaways from attending the Thomas Friedman’s Next New World Summit, a summit of thought leaders from across the value chain, from education(Sebastian Thrun, co-founder of Udacity and Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap), to technology (Lazlo Bock, SVP of People Operations at Google and Andrew McAfee, author of the Second Machine Age), to entrepreneurship (Ben Kaufman, founder and CEO of Quirky), including those who track and monitor these tectonic shifts (James Manyika, Senior Partner, McKinsey and Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn).
Heather McGowan advises presidents, provosts, and other senior leadership in higher educational institutions to work with faculty and staff to make the transformational changes necessary to thrive in this emerging new normal. Most recently she advised the President and Provost of Philadelphia University on the creation of the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering, and Commerce– the first undergraduate college in the US focused exclusively and explicitly on innovation. This college has won national awards, was endowed with a $20M gift, and is the subject of the collaboratively written book, Disrupt Together: How Teams Consistently Innovate (Pearson 2013). Ms. McGowan recently began advising the President of Becker College in Massachusetts on their strategy to transformation Becker College to Becker University with an explicit focus on addressing the complex, changing landscape of higher education.
Ms. McGowan also provides strategic visioning work (single frame visuals to represent problem statements and opportunity spaces) to corporate clients.