Jamie Merisotis on Human Work in the Age of Smart Machines

Jamie Merisotis

This week, Tom is sitting down with the president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, Jamie Merisotis.

Jamie is a globally-recognized leader in philanthropy, education, and public policy. Jamie’s foundation, Lumina Foundation, is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. They envision a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials.

In this episode, Jamie discusses his newest book, Human Work in the Age of Smart Machines. In his book, Jamie makes that case that the question is not, “What is the future of work?” but, “What is the work of the future?”

Jamie and Tom discuss the new paradigm of work (one that consists of learning, earning, and serving), the importance of shifting to a model of teaching and learning about the skills and traits that are uniquely human, and how we can keep equity in the forefront in working toward building a credentialing system that works for everyone.

Key Takeaways:

[:10] About today’s episode with Jamie Merisotis.
[:43] Tom welcomes Jamie Merisotis to the podcast.
[1:07] Jamie has been in the postsecondary policy space for about 30 years. At a young age, he ran a national commission on financing a postsecondary. He shares about how he landed this job and what the experience was like.
[3:26] How this commission helped springboard Jamie into co-founding the Institute for Higher Education Policy in 1993.
[4:40] In 2008, Jamie joined the Lumina Foundation as the President and CEO. He shares why he was interested in this opportunity.
[6:58] Jamie speaks about the work they’re doing at Lumina Foundation with policy advocacy, new learning models, competency-based learning, and impact investing. Jamie elaborates on impact investing as an emerging strategy.
[8:59] Jamie highlights some of the major changes he has seen in education since publishing his last book, America Needs Talent: Attracting, Educating & Deploying the 21st-Century Workforce, as well the key observations that led to his newest book, Human Work in the Age of Smart Machines.
[13:05] The second chapter in Human Work in the Age of Smart Machines makes the case for the work that only humans can do which blends traits such as compassion, empathy, and ethics; developed skills for problem-solving, and integrative skills. Would Jamie agree that this could also be the summary of a new outcomes framework for learning institutions?
[15:53] A core insight from Jamie’s book is that the new paradigm of human work is learning, earning, and serving. He elaborates on what this means and why it is important.
[18:10] Jamie’s book challenges the traditional academic disdain for the workplace. It reads, “Our education system does not do a good job of developing skills that human work requires, in large part because we’re often divorced from the settings where human work is actually performed.” Jamie elaborates on this and shares his thoughts on how we can better integrate work and learning.
[22:35] The importance of shifting to a model of teaching and learning about the skills and traits that are uniquely human.
[25:05] How a transparent system of credentialing could be a part of how learning institutions and work environments connect. Jamie also speaks about how we can get better at credentialing in general (and, in particular, for the skills that matter the most).
[27:01] Jamie points to the Europass system as a comprehensive and dynamic system. Should we be aiming for this in America?
[28:28] The importance of keeping equity in the forefront to build credentialing systems that work for everybody.
[31:12] Jamie closes out with a few thoughts on revolutionizing democratic society. He describes the connection between his view of human work and the contribution that it can make to strengthening a democratic society.
[34:33] Tom thanks Jamie for his new book and for imparting his wisdom on the podcast!

Mentioned in This Episode:

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