Six years ago, when Practice (formerly ApprenNet) was founded, there was one company in the education technology space we sought to model ourselves after.
• It was a company that, like us, believed in the limitless power of learning.
• It was company that, like us, believed in the power of software to scale learning.
• And it was a company that, like us, believed in the power of listening to our customers, our partners, our teams, and the world around us to continuously learn and improve.
That company was Instructure, the makers of Canvas, Bridge, Arc, and Gauge.
Today, we are beyond excited to announce that we are now part of the company that we always strived to model ourselves after: Instructure has acquired Practice.
We would also like to let our clients and partners know that your relationship with Practice will remain the same. You will also continue to receive this newsletter in your inbox every month. We are extremely grateful and excited to expand our impact and empower more people to reach their full potential by building their competence and confidence through Practice’s applied microlearning solution.
Farewell to Resumes
Is the resume becoming a thing of the past? Tufts Medical Center certainly thinks so. Instead of focusing solely on work experience, Tufts has recently started offering skills assessment tests to job applicants. The test, called “Core Score” and developed in partnership with Innovate+Educate, involves patient and workplace scenarios and “shows how well a person thinks and how well [they] can react to certain situations,” which helps the hospital “understand where people’s strengths might be.” Tufts is not alone in offering skills assessments: other employers are also broadening “their pools of job candidates by paying more attention to skills.” By focusing on skills, the pool of candidates widens to include the unemployed or those who have been out of work for some time. Tufts VP of Human Resources, Sean T. Sullivan, said “college degrees have not been a good proxy for gauging if a person is likely to have good customer service skills, or can readily adapt as situations change.” By prioritizing skills over experience, says Innovate+Educate founder and CEO Jamai Blivin, businesses have a “big potential payoff”: “if they hire people well suited to a particular job, they will retain more employees and spend less time and money on hiring in the long run.”
Do Androids Dream of 2049?
Working alongside robots and machines is inevitable: industries all over the world have already begun to incorporate artificial intelligence, automation, and other new developments in technology. The question on everyone’s mind remains: how will automation and AI affect jobs in the future? McKinsey’s latest report indicates that between 400 - 800 million people could lose their jobs to automation by 2030, with up to 375 million needing to completely change occupations. However, per Quartz, “the majority of jobs will only be changed in some way, and more jobs will be created that don’t exist today. The possibility of 800 million people displaced by automation does not mean 800 million people without any work.” Yes, automation will displace jobs, but it will also increase demand for work, creating a whole range of new jobs that do not currently exist. As a result, lifelong learning must become a priority for employers, policymakers, and individuals. Along with supporting job creation and providing income and job transition support to workers, McKinsey’s report reinforces the importance of “scaling and reimagining job retraining and workforce skills development,” particularly “enabling individuals to learn marketable new skills throughout their lifetime.” There will also be continued, rapid growth of jobs in healthcare, specifically for direct care work. The full report examines additional types of occupations that may be created in comparison to the jobs that could be displaced by automation, how automation will affect skills and wages, predictions for how quickly displaced workers will find new employment, and the continued impact of automation over the next 10 years.
Failure is not a word most leaders want to focus on or hear on a regular basis. Yet leaders of some of the most successful organizations know that learning how to experiment, take risks, make mistakes and learn from them is an important part of helping companies to grow and evolve. In line with Smith College’s “Failing Well” program, which teaches students that “failure is not a bug of learning, it’s the feature,” the CEOs of Netflix, Amazon, Coca-Cola, and Domino’s all recognize that growth and innovation is built on their companies’ failures. In a presentation for CEOs, Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle presented two challenges companies often face when learning to embrace failure: 1) Omission bias, or when people choose not to pursue new ideas in fear of failing and damaging their careers, and 2) Loss aversion, which focuses on not losing instead of winning. Doyle explains that creating “the permission to fail is energizing” and is necessary to learn and succeed. In his Harvard Business Review article, Bill Taylor puts it well: “If you’re not prepared to fail, you’re not prepared to learn. And unless people and organizations manage to keep learning as fast as the world is changing, they’ll never keep growing and evolving.”
The Heart of the Matter
In the age of automation, artificial intelligence, and the unpredictable challenges of “technological unemployment”, one industry is steadily adding jobs: direct care. We’ve written about the rapid growth of jobs for personal care workers, home health aides, and nursing assistants before, and why machines won’t be able to effectively take over as caregivers. As Oren Etzioni writes in his article for Wired, “the key skills for this category of jobs are empathy and the ability to make a human connection. The very definition of empathy is feeling someone else’s feelings; a machine cannot do that as well as a person.” Despite this rapid growth, caregivers are generally not paid well, lack access to consistent training, and have low prospects for career advancement. In an article for Quartz, Dan Kopf explores how direct care workers, especially those who work with the elderly, are “generally filled by women, people of color, and those with a high school education or less,” and “nearly a quarter were not born in the U.S.” As a result, “many of the people who work in the profession are marginalized.” Etzioni makes the case that “we ought to uplift [direct care workers] to be better paid and better regarded,” yet also ensure that these jobs remain “accessible to those without higher education.” Perhaps “with a combination of increased training and reduced restrictions of the services aides can legally provide, these jobs would be better paying, higher status, and a more efficient part of the economy.” Yet, uncertainty remains in how best to train workers who have the potential to have immediate positive impact in caring for a rapidly aging population.
By Any Other Name
A new report from Cognizant revealed 21 job titles, such as “Virtual Store Sherpa” and “Man-Machine Teaming Manager,” that may become prevalent over the next few years.
The Full Experience
Facing stiff competition from Amazon and Walmart, the retail industry has been on a steady decline. Yet some retailers have found success with “experience shopping,” which focuses on creating an “emotional connection with their customers” combined with a special “in-store experience to keep [customers] coming back,” steered by employees who strive to heavily personalize the shopping experience and form strong relationships with customers. One of these companies, Bonobos, refers to their employees as “guides” rather than just sales associates, and a key to Bonobos and other experience stores’ success in finding and retaining this type of talent is by prioritizing employee development. Designer-label rental company Rent the Runway even sets a higher bar for their new hires, seeking out applicants with strong customer service backgrounds, such as those who have worked in fine dining, at elite fitness studios, or served as concierges. Experience store employees also tend to make higher salaries than the average retail worker. Larger retail companies have taken notice of the experience shopping model: Walmart acquired Bonobos, put $2.7 billion into training programs designed to improve customer service, and launched its first portfolio company revolving around “highly personalized shopping”, which is being run by a former Rent the Runway co-founder. The experience shopping model is not without its challenges, and with Walmart already taking strides to leverage experience shopping, time will tell if Amazon will begin to follow suit. In the end, however, the customer will still be right.