EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The future of work and how to best prepare for it is one of the biggest challenges currently facing governments, employers, educators, and policy makers. The fast-paced changes happening within the workforce were recently amplified by a global pandemic, forcing employers to completely re-think their organizational operations. This new reality has only enhanced the existing need to think critically about how to prepare new talent for the world of work today, and of the future.

This paper is a culmination of a review of 32 recent Canadian and international reports on the future of work. A synthesis of each report led to the identification of six major future of work trends.

This white paper aims to discuss those trends and highlight the associated roles and implications for work-integrated learning (WIL) programs:


ADVANCES IN TECHNOLOGY

With the rate of increases in technology, AI and automation of roles, there is an acute need to prepare the talent pipeline with appropriate human and technical skill development. WIL can help to foster the requisite human skill development through reflective learning components, in parallel to the technical skills students acquire during their WIL experiences and in their academic curriculum. Organizations can also leverage the digital skills that students often have to mentor other staff or introduce new technologies to the workplace.


DEVELOPING SKILL AGILITY AND TRANSFERABILITY

There is increasing need for employees who have complementary, and sometimes unusual combinations of skills. WIL institutions can help to develop a talent pipeline that is prepared for the future of work and “hybrid roles” by ensuring that students develop skill agility by taking the skills that they have developed through academic and co-curricular experiences and applying them in a workplace setting and vice versa.


RESPONSIBILITY FOR ADAPTATION TO THE FUTURE OF WORK

There is increasing pressure on workers to continue to update their skills. WIL experiences often foster an appreciation for lifelong learning and the WIL model can be applied to mid-career professionals who are upskilling or re-skilling in the form of micro-credentials.


FOSTERING CULTURES OF DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

The future of work is likely to have a more heterogeneous workforce, infused with varying generational, racial, and cultural groups. Reflective WIL programming can help students to think deeply about their experiences and uncover biases to enhance their cultural awareness and become better advocates for themselves as well as allies for others in the work environment.


THE GIG ECONOMY AND PRECARIOUS WORK

With a rise in gig work, employees are experiencing less social protection and financial stability than ever before. Firsthand experience in their industry through WIL opportunities will allow students to become better prepared for the reality of precarious work and its associated challenges.


EMPLOYEE VS. ORGANIZATIONAL VALUES

There appears to be a gap in understanding between employee and organizational values. WIL institutions can play an important role in helping students gain clarity on their values and communicate employee values to employers to help them with effective job design and attracting talent.

REFERENCES | WORK-LEARN INSTITUTE

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