9 Important Questions connecting the past, present and COVID changing workforce


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To know the future of work, we have to know the past.  If we’re all going to go back to into the workforce soon–  it’s important that we go back after COVID in a way that can allow us to create value, have a sense of purpose.  To return to work in a more thoughtful way than we shut down, we’re going to need to understand the impact of what’s going on in our changing workforce.  


The Future of Work and its past after COVID in our Return to the Workforce

There were important questions not answered even before COVID that are even more important now such as:

  • What is the effect of AI on jobs in the future?
  • What changes will occur in the gig economy?
  • What will the future of work look like?
  • How will work and jobs change by 2035?
  • May remote jobs be the future of work?
  • What will the future workplace look like in 5 years?
  • How do you define the Future of Work?
  • What is the future of artificial intelligence?
  • What does the future hold for work, jobs, and education?

In a recent Catalyst TALKS discussion, I gave my thoughts on an article written by my Grayline colleague, Bret Boyd.  

He begins the piece: 

The United States is in the midst of a generation-long structural shift in labor, productivity, jobs, and pay. This shift began in the 1980s and is set to accelerate with the increasing adoption of advanced robotics and machine learning technologies. We are experiencing the most important changes in the nature of work since the Industrial Revolution, changes that affect nearly everything, from crime to electoral outcomes to national competitiveness.

You can watch the video here:

If you don’t have 10 minutes, I highlighted several key points below from the video: 

“…If we are going to be able to talk about the future workforce because unless you understand where you came from you’renot gonna go know where we’re going in the future…”

“…Overall productivity and wages they have been separating for years because of automation making the American worker that much more efficient.  That is important because as we rebuild and go back to work after this is over…. employers might realize that with everyone working at home we don’t necessarily need them in the same way that they’ve been used in the past…”

“…For decades those that have high skills in terms of high skill training that the workforce is looking for, their wages have been going up everybody else has basically been stagnant…”

“…in terms of understanding how that happened it all goes back to education and skills training now you can get skills training by being in the workforce for a long time or you can go back and reapply yourself to a new trade or a new practice… right now during this time of COVID that’s definitely in demand…”

“…the question is what happens to those white-collar jobs that people think like legal assistant or other jobs that are done just by researching information they too could be susceptible to artificial intelligence…”

 “…there are examples where an industry was disrupted like the buggy whip industry or those clerical office folks that were working in the 1980s before computers became mainstream in business or desktop computers became popular they and every time their jobs were eliminated disrupted had to go back into the workforce for new training and new skills or they retired early…”

“…it’s the higher skills training where you’re adding value to the person’s human capital by training them on subjects or tests that they didn’t know before— in this case critical thinking skills, STEM skills… communication skills things that are hard to do on a repetitive basis…” 

“… we need to understand now that learning how to learn is even more important.  It’s that experiential kind of learning that right now is in a state of flux and transition and with COVID we’re redefining quite literally what it means to be in the classroom…”

“…with 26 million Americans out of work many of them not able to return to the same job the importance of making sure that they have the training that they need to return back is ever more important…”

“…In this era of COVID, with the natural inclination to build walls or to put up barricades, what we need to remember is we need the best talent wherever it comes from on the planet and then those here in the United States that don’t have the skills to match into the job they need we need to double our efforts in government education and on-site job training to be able to make it happen…”


As a bonus problem for extra credit like your days in school, watch my interview with Matt Dunne, CEO of the Center for Rural Innovation.  Everything we discussed above has a different set of factors and conditions for rural America as we look to the future of work.



Joseph Kopser of Grayline Group is host of Catalyst TALKS. A series of live, interactive interviews with thought leaders, subject matter experts and operators with first hand experience in the skills needed to lead the workplace in a changing world. His talks focus on the technology, agility, leadership, knowledge, and strategy needed to build teams in a changing world. Joseph is also co-founder of the non-profit USTomorrow focused on workforce readiness.

Joseph’s focus is to help people adapt to the changing future of work Grayline Group knows that technology is changing faster than business models, and globalization has magnified the threat surface for companies, investors, and governments. Change creates opportunity and risk. It requires the skills of new leadership and strategy in the workplace. Grayline Group brings together experts, data, and solutions to help business and government leaders manage transformation resulting from technological and socioeconomic catalysts.

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