A Closer Look

Reskilling displaced workers – Don’t focus exclusively on traditional jobs

We’re not taking advantage of the full potential of “reskilling” workers. Conversations and solutions around job displacement are often limited for two reasons: 1) They focus exclusively on traditional jobs rather than “deconstructed” work; and 2) They focus on regional partnerships, rather than considering the global work ecosystem. Important solutions require seeing beyond “jobs” and beyond localities; some of the most intriguing solutions involve both working together.

A typical argument about the future of work is that employers, schools and universities in a particular region must prepare local workers for new jobs. For example, Kaplan noted, “Ultimately skills-training partnerships must be created locally,” and “Business leaders can take the initiative to work with local high schools, colleges and community-based organizations to develop curricula that would produce candidates with the skills needed to fill job openings.”

However, is local coordination for traditional jobs truly the recipe that works? Is the local recipe the only one that works?

Work Deconstruction and Worker Globalization

According to Rusty Justice, the answer is no. Justice is a Kentucky mining veteran who co-founded a company called Bit Source to retrain coal miners into programmers. He observed that miners are accustomed to deep focus, team play and working with complex engineering technology. “Coal miners are really technology workers who get dirty,” Justice says. And he’s not alone in his thinking: A recent WIRED article revealed that Justice got 950 applications for his first 11 positions.

How did he come to this alternative solution to job displacement? First, Justice deconstructed the job of a coal miner to reveal that much of the work overlapped with the work of computer coders. Deconstruction reveals how to reskill with more precision, augmenting coal miner skills just enough to fit the closely-related job of computer coder. This is very different from trying to convert coal miners to qualify for available local jobs (such as in-home care or retail management) that may be quite different. Second, unlike coal mining, coding can be done remotely. Former coal miners now qualify not only for local jobs, but can tap a global work ecosystem through coding platforms like Freelancer.<

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Workers Must Reskill for a Global, Remote Work Ecosystem | ReWork

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