01 Dec 2018
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Competencies and Credentials

Creating jobs and maintaining a company’s competitiveness

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Joseph Fuller (photo by Russ Campbell)

American businesses can’t afford to ignore the reality: The nature of work is changing. If companies hope to hire and hold on to employees, they need to be ready to respond to the forces shaping a new future, such as the pace of technological change, the emergence of a gig economy, and shifting global and labor markets. As faculty co-chairs of the Managing the Future of Work project, William Kerr and Joseph Fuller are leading efforts to prepare leaders for the changes ahead.

Take, for example, Fuller’s research on degree inflation: Over the last decade, changes in employment expectations have created a powerful combination of underachievement and misalignment that is costing both US competitiveness and working-class Americans aspiring to a decent standard of living. The reason, Fuller says, is that employers have been increasingly demanding a bachelor’s degree for jobs that didn’t traditionally require one. Since only a third of the US population has a bachelor’s degree, the pool of candidates for those positions is limited.

Compounding the problem, the college graduates who are taking the middleskill positions—the supervisors, sales representatives, data analysts, and production managers, for example—tend to be less engaged in their work, have higher rates of turnover, and have lower levels of productivity, according to Fuller’s research.

In the interest of American competitiveness, Fuller says that companies should think more broadly about nurturing talent through paid apprenticeships, work-based learning opportunities, or co-op programs. In doing so, companies can help shift the way middle-skills workers enter the workforce. “Business leaders have a promising opportunity to work with educators, policymakers, and labor leaders to spark a revival of middle-skills jobs.”


Photo by King Lawrence

Jay Rogers (MBA 2007) set out to build a car manufacturer from scratch, no holds barred. The result is Arizona-based Local Motors, a decentralized tech company that produces small-batch vehicles with crowdsourced designs in microfactories costing a fraction of a conventional car plant. “Faster time, better ideas, less capital,” Rogers says.

 

Photo courtesy of Kieron Stopforth

“It was during an internship last year at DeepMind, Google’s advanced artificial intelligence center, that I realized this is going to be absolutely transformational. At the same time, technology is enabling more flexible forms of work, but in many cases without the benefits associated with traditional jobs. These two trends could fundamentally alter the relationship between business leaders and their employees.”
—Kieron Stopforth (MBA 2019)

 
Managing the Future of Work Project

Companies need to move beyond the old models of workforce development and human resources—those days have passed. The project addresses the changing nature of work through research that business leaders can put into action to better navigate the complex landscape. The research focuses on technology trends such as artificial intelligence, changing workforce demographics, the middle-skills gap, global talent, and the tensions between urban centers and rural areas.

 
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Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2007, Section G
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