Can reskilling today prevent job loss in the future?

In December 2017, McKinsey released an important new report entitled Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained: Workforce Transitions In A Time Of Automation.

The report provoked strong reactions, and while the report itself offers much to be hopeful for, you wouldn’t necessarily know that from the subsequent articles published in its wake. When you read a headline like this one, for example (from an article published by Axios), it’s understandable that you might feel worried:

McKinsey: automation may wipe out 1/3 of America’s workforce by 2030

The Bottom Line

In defense of this article, the author Steve LeVine does offer some balanced perspective, despite the provocative title. For example, here is how Levine describes the report’s “bottom line”:

“The economy of most countries will eventually replace the lost jobs, the study says, but many of the unemployed will need considerable help to shift to new work.”

This presents a pretty classic glass-half-empty/glass-half-full scenario; either you focus on the lost jobs, or on the new opportunities.

Udacity, of course, opts for the glass-half-full approach, which returns us to our post’s central question: Can proactive reskilling today prevent job loss in the future? Our answer is “yes,” and here’s why: because we have knowledge of what’s coming, and what’s possible. We teach the technologies that are already transforming the future of work, and we witness in our classrooms every day how lifelong learners are embracing the opportunities these technologies represent.

The Case for Reskilling

It’s no secret that the currently employed are in many ways one of the more vulnerable demographics in these “age of automation” scenarios. Mid-career professionals in particular came into the workforce under a very different set of rules and expectations than the set they’re going to be working under in the not-so-distant future. And regrettably, they’re far too often being told that everything they’ve worked so hard to build—every skill they’ve learned, every year of experience they’ve notched—will be all for naught, because they’re going to have to start over. The truth is, they’re not going to have to start over. But they are going to have to reskill. They’re going to have to learn new things. They’re going to have to shift, pivot, and adjust.

This sentiment is succinctly expressed in the McKinsey report:

“Mid-career job training will be essential, as will enhancing labor market dynamism and enabling worker redeployment.”

The report goes on to lay the groundwork for the paths forward:

“These changes will challenge current educational and workforce training models, as well as business approaches to skill-building.”

The New Model, The New Approach

This is where Udacity comes in. Our goal is to deliver the new model, and to embody the new approach. And we mean to do so now. If you embrace the lifelong learning ethos, and proactively inaugurate your reskilling process today, we believe you can significantly lessen the likelihood of having to endure “gaps” between the loss of an old role, and the assumption of a new one.

If you’re in one of the careers that stands to be impacted by the age of automation, why not prepare for what comes next, now? After all, job change is a whole lot better than job loss.


Udacity connects lifelong learning to the jobs of today, tomorrow, and beyond! For more information, please visitwww.udacity.com.