More than 270 C-level executives, top thinkers, and inspirational speakers participated in FU.SE Digital 2020, the second annual edition of the FU.SE series on the future of work, which went completely virtual this year.

Run as a 24-hour design sprint, the event took place on 3-4 September and generated concrete solutions to these three critical challenges:

#1. Solving the Skills Mismatch

In order to enable a prosperous future workforce, it is essential to ensure that the skills of today match the jobs of tomorrow. Individuals engaged in reskilling and upskilling position themselves as more competitive and attractive in this rapidly evolving labour market. On top of individual efforts, as Hans-Paul Bürkner, Chairman of BCG posits, “to bridge the skills gap, we need a social contract between companies and employees to enable life-long learning”.

The first interactive workshop directly addressed this mismatch of skills and proposed a creative solution to encourage multi-stakeholder lifelong learning: the 3L Triangle.

The 3L Triangle is a framework and roadmap to connect workers and their employers to not only encourage, but also hold each other accountable in providing continuous lifelong learning initiatives. Moving forward, a scorecard will be developed to incentivise people to keep learning throughout their life.

FU.SE 2020 highlighted the need to include today’s youth voice in the conversation about lifelong learning and skilling, as well. AIESEC President, Alexandra Robinson, highlighted the need for young people to be at the center of the creation process of their own training programmes.

#2. The Inclusion Imperative

Inclusion is an imperative consideration driving decision-making for businesses, governments and educators. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare our broken systems with regards to marginalised populations. Specifically minorities, young people and women are suffering from job losses and lack of support systems.

Creating solutions facing diversity and inclusion, the FU.SE digital workshop laid the groundwork for the development of a new social platform. Feedback on diversity and inclusive behaviours in a safe, digital space can be accessed and utilised by all in an innovative social environment.

During the interactive workshop, Brian Gallagher, President and CEO of United Way Worldwide said that, to create a more inclusive world of work, the solution should “involve a shared accountability between employers, workers, institutions”.

The goal is to generate new ideas from under-voiced individuals, promoting a fair and equitable labour force.

There was clear optimism for a sustainable and diverse future during the Young Leaders on the Future of Work discussion. The panel of 2020 CEO for One Month finalists unanimously expressed their belief that a diverse workforce creates a richer work experience. As one of the finalists, Iris Maréchal said, “diversity supports innovation and the design thinking process that will benefit all of us in the future.”

#3. Human-Machine Collaboration

Artificial intelligence is drastically altering the future of work. Embracing technology and investing in collaborative, yet ethical, human-machine integration is fundamental to ensure a sustainable future for workers across the globe.

Automation is already being used in a myriad of ways, as could be seen at the FU.SE 2020 virtual tech fair. Connecting attendees with start-ups, the tech fair allowed for direct and immersive interaction with innovative firms. PHYD, for example, is a lifelong employability platform that uses automation to test a job seeker’s skills. Using artificial intelligence (AI), it then proposes reskilling and upskilling opportunities that uniquely match specific profiles.

Moving forward, with machines replacing a large portion of repetitive jobs, human workers will be tasked with enhancing soft skills, like empathy and Emotional Intelligence (EI), as Alain Dehaze, CEO of The Adecco Group, suggested throughout the conference. Echoing this sentiment was Richard Baldwin, Professor at the Graduate Institute, and expert in the field of artificial intelligence, saying that “the jobs of the future will be filled with things that AI can’t do”.

Through ideation and brainstorming, participants developed a unique framework for an onboarding workshop for AI familiarisation to help employees familiarise themselves with automation technologies. This would take the form of a workshop at first, with extra touchpoints conducted along the employees’ journey. This tool will be a critical complement to the rapid digitalisation and automation of the labour market.

At the end of the conference, Baldwin closed off with cautious optimism, adding that “while in the short-term, automation technologies may displace jobs, there are solid reasons to be optimistic about the future, if we prepare well”.

Sprinting Ahead

Unprecedented times called for an unprecedented conference – FU.SE Digital 2020 thrived with a completely virtual platform, inspiring speakers and enthusiastic collaborators. The participants addressed pressing issues regarding inclusion, the skill gap and automation, and developed practical, concrete and actionable solutions.

Human-centricity is the key for all of the challenges ahead, whether it is about humanising artificial intelligence, allowing all individuals to make their voices heard, or building a culture of lifelong learning.

The avalanche of ideas, thought-provoking discussions, and innovative solutions coming out of FU.SE 2020 is only the beginning. The journey to ensure a viable future world of work needs to be constantly ongoing and always adapting to new challenges. Re-watch all of the FU.SE 2020 sessions here and continue working and collaborating on a sustainable future of work.

Watch the closing session here.