Yang: “We’re experiencing 10 years of change in 10 weeks”

A Conversation with Andrew Yang

Editor’s Note: This is the first entry in The Future of Work blog. A lot of organizations and thought leaders are taking their conversations about jobs, education, and closing the skills gap online. There are also a lot of new reports being published about what the post-COVID-19 economy could look like.

The WorkingNation Editorial Team is checking in with as many of these online talks and reports as possible. We’re going to share a bit of what we’re hearing and reading on these pages.

There were two big themes on the campaign trail for former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang—the future of work and universal basic income. Two months after dropping out of the race, he’s still talking about them.

Yang spoke to a small group of people online on Wednesday ahead of the launch next week of a podcast, Yang Speaks, which will touch on a variety of topics but mostly focus on the future of the economy and society.

While there was no live q-and-a on the briefing, I did submit a question ahead of time, asking for his thoughts about what the post-COVID-19 work landscape will look like. Here is some of what he had to say:

“We’re experiencing 10 years of change in 10 weeks. A lot of the trends that were already out there just sped up and are accelerating. So that’s automation of work, working remotely, online education, and some very, very negative trends around mental health…”

“The jobs of the future are going to be harder to come by. For many of us, it’s one reason why the government is going to have to play an active role in creating demand and creating many of these jobs. Our best case scenario is that we invest trillions of dollars in environmental sustainability and infrastructure and we ended up creating a lot of jobs in those directions.”

“If you had to ask me how to advise your older kids who are in college. The same truths (pre-COVID-19) will apply only revved up, which is that you should try and find some kind of work that you are genuinely excited by because you’re more likely to become good at it. You should try and join organizations that consist of people that will actually look after you, care about your development. They’ll be harder to come by for our kids. That’s the reality.

“It’s heartbreaking to me on so many levels because I’m an entrepreneur. I love entrepreneurs. We are in danger of stifling a generation of entrepreneurship, right now, because entrepreneurs are the ones who are getting tumbled the worst in this time. Small business owners. And you can bet that a lot of our young people are going to have an attitude that taking risks and going out on a limb is not the thing to do.”

“Universal basic income. It is a policy where every member of a society, every citizen gets a certain amount to meet their basic needs. I championed $1,000 a month; it seemed dramatic and radical at the time. Tim Ryan and others are fighting for $2,000 a month for the duration of the crisis, which I agree with. The basic idea is putting money into people’s hands unconditionally, universally, and letting them do what they want.”

That’s just a taste of what he had to say. You can watch the full Conversation with Andrew Yang recording here.