One of the benefits of passing the halfway point in life is an accelerating focus on what’s important, what we can change, how we can impact others, etc. A recurring theme that anchors much of what we do at SAI and what I see outside of the office is the recognition that we would all be happier, healthier and contribute greater value if we were in challenging, valuable jobs.

Crowd Image

The temptation is great these days to assume that all is lost as the displacement of humans by AI platforms and robotics is just around the corner. Lost amidst the clanging, ratings driven news noise is an overwhelming and growing body of evidence that indicates that humans have a significant role to play for the foreseeable future. More importantly, we have the ability to accelerate economic growth, take control of our destiny and improve many of society’s ills by making some relatively minor adjustments in the way that we train ourselves and our colleagues.

The World Economic Forum released an eye opening white paper “Towards a Reskilling Revolution” this week that crystallizes much of what I’ve heard as we built and brought our Acadia product to market over the last couple of years. Some highlights:

  1. “… more than one in four adults reported a mismatch between their current skill sets and the qualifications required to do their jobs.”
  2. “Even among people formerly working good jobs, disruptive technological and socio-economic forces threaten to swiftly outdate the shelf life of people’s skillsets and the relevance of what they thought they knew about the path to social mobility and rewarding employment.”
  3. Manpower Group’s 2017 Talent Shortage Survey found that 40% of employers can’t find the skilled talent they need, resulting in employers retraining twice as many employees since 2015.
  4. “… by 2020, across all types of occupations, on average, more than a third of the core skills needed to perform most jobs will be made up of skills currently not yet considered crucial to the job.”

Foundational “how to think” training through colleges and universities is still clearly a desirable path into the workforce but we simply can’t rely on long form training any more to continuously reskill and upskill our workforce. Speed and accessibility to quickly changing training content is key to increasing the alignment of workforce capacity with requirements.

I had the pleasure of watching our first Year Up program participant at SAI graduate earlier this week from a twelve-month program that quickly empowers low income young adults to go from poverty to professional careers in a year. Key to Year Up’s success across multiple cities and thousands of graduates is the ability to quickly impart IT, business and finance skills in an environment to aspiring, motivated young men and women with a thirst for knowledge.

Likewise, I’m watching workforce development programs at local non-profits like The Helping Up Mission work with the Community College of Baltimore County to quickly design and deploy workforce development programs that equip job seekers recovering from addiction and homelessness with the right skills to gain employment and move into life changing jobs.

Among our Acadia customers, we’re seeing some of the world’s largest brewers, manufacturers, banks and healthcare providers rapidly upskill their employees with minimal investments in continuous improvement programs and technology.

With an unemployment rate of 4.1% and a historically low labor force participation rate, you might imagine that we couldn’t possibly have more than 3 million open jobs (500k in manufacturing alone).

To make room for folks entering the workforce, we need to get busy and focus on upskilling our team members that are currently employed and we need to collectively focus on increasing the number of opportunities for those that desperately need and want to improve their skills.

We need to worry less about the robots and focus more on how we can quickly and continuously increase our skills and capacity. Let me know if you have ideas that you think will help and I’ll share those across our network.