Rebuilding the learning ecosystem for the future of work

A conversation with Michelle Weise, author of Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs that Don’t Even Exist Yet

The way we work is constantly changing. Technology is eliminating many of the more repetitive skills in all our jobs. There’s more emphasis being placed on cognitive—human—skills. And, we’re all working longer than we probably thought we would when we first entered the workforce.

“Most of our workforce is actually staying in for much longer than, historically, we’ve ever seen. People are going well into their 60s and 70s, and having and facing way more job transitions than they ever imagined.”

Michelle Weise has spent the past decade studying how work is changing and helping educators, business leaders, and policy makers rethink how we prepare the workforce for all these changes, including the shift in the skills we all need.

She’s currently entrepreneur-in-residence and senior advisor at Imaginable Futures, and also the former chief innovation officer of the Strada Education Networks Institute for the Future of Work.

Weise’s put all that knowledge and experience into a new book—out today—Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs That Don’t Even Exist Yet. She’s my guest on this week’s Work in Progress podcast.

The book focuses on the need for lifelong learning—or long life learning, as she describes it—and the importance of shifting the way we think about education in this country.

“When you think about a longer work life, and this idea of long life learning, it really upends all of our working assumptions about education and work. And this was also happening at the same time where we were starting to realize that the transition from education to work and retirement was just not as simple as it used to be,” says Weise.

“Even early Baby Boomers who are now retiring are experiencing approximately 12 job changes by the time they retire. So it’s not just the millennials who are switching jobs pretty frequently. Even if you extend the work life of an individual five, 10, 15 years, we can only extrapolate that the number of job transitions we might anticipate might reach 20 or 30 over a lifetime.”

These projections lead to a lot of questions: How am I actually going to remain competitive in the workforce? How am I going to stay relevant? It’s going to require some sort of retooling and re-skilling, or up-skilling over time, but where am I going to actually go to attain that extra learning?

Weise says those questions lead her to think about how we go from just talking about lifelong learning to actually changing our behavior and rebuilding the learning ecosystem for the future.

In the book, she outlines the solutions to the shortcomings in the current education system, from wraparound supports for workers to targeted education, all aimed at helping fulfil the needs of a new generation of workers.

We discuss these solutions in this podcast. You can listen here, or download it wherever you get your podcasts.

Look for Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs That Don’t Even Exist Yet at your favorite book retailer.

Episode 156: Michelle Weise, author, Long Life Learning:
Host: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan Lynch, Melissa Panzer, and Ramona Schindelheim
Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4.0.

You can check out all the other podcasts at this link: Work in Progress podcasts

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