The Intersection of Work, Technology, and Human Equity: The Future is Reskilling

Jun 25 2020

Jordan Giali

We are now months into the COVID-19 pandemic and you may be wondering – what lies ahead for the economy and workforce? 

While there are plenty of forecasts out there, it is impossible to know for sure what will happen. In the U.S. alone, more than 47 million people have filed for unemployment, most of them laid off from low-wage retail, hospitality, and food service jobs. We expect that the economy will ultimately recover and people will go back to work at some point. But how many people? And to what kinds of jobs? There’s a growing body of research showing technological automation increases after economic downturns. Will this time be different – or worse? 

Imagine what society will look like once lockdown restrictions are fully lifted – at least until we discover a vaccine or some other way to contain the virus (like rapid and affordable testing). Restaurants, movie theaters, concerts, sports stadiums, and other close-contact services and venues will likely have capacity limitations once they’re allowed to reopen. This could limit the number of customers that businesses are able to serve, which could mean less revenue for employers, and fewer jobs for frontline workers. 

Rather than allow this current downturn to exacerbate negative trends toward displacement and income inequality, we can take bold steps in a new direction that will ensure a future of abundance for everyone. To do this, we need to develop new and better ways to help people reskill themselves for the high-wage, in-demand jobs of the future. We need solutions that are faster, cheaper, and vastly more effective at getting people placed into these jobs. 

Job training of this caliber is not an automatic trademark of the future. We have to build it. This is why we’ve launched the XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling in partnership with New Profit, Strada Education Network, and Walmart.org. This competition will incentivize the brightest minds to develop groundbreaking training solutions that can reskill vulnerable workers at half the time it currently takes existing training and education programs. 

Participants will be able to change careers significantly faster than going through traditional education and training programs, all while avoiding steep program fees or student loan debt. And, through special collaborations with local workforce partners, participants will have access to new jobs that pay living wages. The winning solutions will be captured in a playbook for 500+ Workforce Development Boards to deploy and scale across the U.S. and beyond. 

If this sounds ambitious, that’s because it is. We want to push the boundaries of workforce training and create a future full of opportunities for everyone. We can do this, and right now is the perfect time to start. Come join us!

Visit rapidreskilling.xprize.org to learn more, start a team, or become a partner. 

Jordan Giali