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Larson: A look at the workforce of the future

Published: Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013 3:25 p.m. CDT
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David Larson is the superintendent of Glenbard Township High School District 87.

Beyond the state and national government’s emphasis on measuring basic proficiency skills, we know our graduates will need to be prepared for college, the global workplace and personal success. While we ensure high achievement for our students on national and state assessments, we also want to prepare our students for their future lives and workplaces. Bob Nelson, a futurist consultant, highlights the following five trends that will shape the future of work:

1.  The growing shortage of skilled workers: Demographic trends indicate that a declining birthrate combined with an aging population will result in a skilled labor shortage. There also will be a growing divide between skilled and nonskilled workers.

2.  The rise of the millennial: Those who were born between 1980 and 2000 represent prospective workers who are motivated differently than previous generations. While they don’t want their jobs to define their identify, they expect fulfillment and meaning in their work. They will not be patient in “paying their dues” and likely will change jobs and careers frequently.

3.  The rise of the temp: Due to an unpredictable economic environment, the temporary employment segment will continue to be the fastest growing job sector. According to a 2012 survey conducted by Harris Interactive of more than 3,000 hiring managers and HR professionals, 36 percent of companies planned to hire contract or temporary workers.

4.  The evolving role of virtual employees: While most employers provide telecommuting opportunities, companies still have not mastered how to make technology replace the social bonds that are necessary in the workplace. Studies have shown that, while we can be virtually connected through technology, as social and emotional creatures, we may feel more isolated as we miss the important face-to-face connections.

5.  The Globalization of the Labor Market: The traditional geographic bonds between producer and consumer are gone, and jobs are often transferable around the globe. International trade agreements, cheaper labor costs and automation have moved the work to the worker. This will result in companies only hiring employees who will clearly provide them value and a competitive advantage.

Providing a learning environment that equips students, not only to be proficient in key academic skills, but to be versatile, creative and self-directed is central in preparing them for the global work force. Our amazing public schools are providing learning experiences to ensure students are critical thinkers, questioners, problem solvers, communicators and global citizens of character. Our graduates will be “future ready” – ready for college, ready for the global work force and ready for their own personal success!

David Larson is the superintendent of Glenbard Township High School District 87

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