Future of Work | Navigating an uncertain economy one online resource at a time

By Benjamin Peck As we sit through the upheaval of the COVID-19 outbreak, many tertiary institutions have opted to move their summer program curriculum online. However, this shift is not unprecedented. In fact, Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) have been growing at a rapid rate in the last decade. They promise, above all, a world where anyone anywhere can transform their lives by accessing the best learning experience. These courses are often created by training providers or universities themselves, catering to a growing demand for a range of disciplines and skills. You can find anything you're seeking to learn with great ease, from antique languages to human resources (HR). MOOCs have also gone mainstream, offering qualifications recognized by both schools and companies. Many firms and educators are willing to use and tap into courses as a new and powerful means of skills development in tandem with their existing training. Khan Academy and Coursera are staples in and out of the classroom that helps augment the learning process and develop learners. With the convenience of providing courses through MOOCs, curriculum developers are also incentivized to ensure their content is relevant and accessible as they innovate in their teaching methods.

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Yeoh Wan Qing

MOOC providers have everything, from coding to personal development | Credit: Coursera

Moving beyond the consumer sphere and into the world of hiring managers, recruiters, and savvy jobseekers, we see another tide of change. Training bootcamps boast the ability to equip students with the skills and tools to become software developers, product managers, and startup founders. Through online classrooms, renowned trainers connect with students to impart market-relevant skills. Like MOOCs, bootcamps are growing in popularity as well. But the latter goes deeper — if MOOCs are your maintenance five-mile jogs to keep fit, bootcamps are your power-packed HIIT sessions to take your fitness to the next level. Bootcamps take you beyond an expository understanding of much sought-after skills like SQL, Ruby and JavaScript. As competition in the bootcamp market continues to grow, curriculum quality and relevance only evolves. Rest assured that you won’t leave empty handed.

Top Bootcamp programming languages and courses shown, such as CSS, JavaScript, HTML, and SQL
Bootcamps are acutely relevant, providing graduate skills for the most sought-after coding languages (Source)

Let’s make it clear, however, that MOOCs and bootcamps are far from ready to displace the established role of schools. Schools will retain their role in providing specialized and professional training and anchoring the integrity of academic research. We can take solace in the fact that at least for now, an accumulation of LinkedIn Learning credentials will not top a diploma or bachelor's degree. The quality of bootcamps do vary, and students should exercise care in choosing bootcamp providers. Yet, as we observe rapid shifts in the way we live and work, in the automation of services, the hacking of supply chains and the exponential integration of tech into our lives, we are faced with a volatile and uncertain future.

A checklist of six questions to determine a bootcamp's quality, and whether it guarantees you land a job or not

Not all coding bootcamps are introductory in nature. Some provide extensive subject depth to increase learners’ employability, with job guarantees to boot (Source)

One of the manifestations of our VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world is the evolution of industries to offer short-term project roles rather than career positions. Short hires enable companies to move quickly and stay versatile enough to pivot following changes in consumer trends and tech disruptions. Conversely, companies can then avoid becoming bloated with excess staff and capital. MOOCs and bootcamps are simply moving with the times by helping job seekers stay relevant to clinch their next role. That being said, bootcamps and MOOCs are no silver bullet. But for certain, they help prepare the modern worker to navigate the job market effectively. By learning a diversity of relevant skills through these novel tools, the modern worker can then take to the market with confidence.

We are watching the dawn of a new world of work with as much anticipation as trepidation. The VUCA economy provides as much uncertainty as opportunity. The world of work won’t wait for us — we shouldn’t wait for it either. As we grow accustomed to the new norm of uncertainty, let’s tap on these exciting resources to develop greater versatility and resilience.

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