Talent Weekly: Are Companies Firing the Wrong People?

by | Sep 27, 2022 | AI & Automation|Featured|Newsletter

Talent weekly is a curated selection of the world news on talent, education, and work. Brought to you by the editorial desk of Future Talent Council. You can access this week’s full edition here, and sign up to receive these weekly updates here.

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  • South Korean schools setting up thermal cameras, distribute face masks
  • Danish schools must be disinfected twice a day
  • UK Government pull the plug on MBA apprenticeships

  • Recession will not mark the start of large-scale technological unemployment
  • 62% of U.S remote workers take calls in the bedroom or bathroom
  • 25% get half-dressed to “look nice on video calls”
  • Coursera offers help to universities hit by the coronavirus
  • Employers expect their initial cutbacks to be temporary
  • 4,800 managers: How we work to innovate


Companies Are Firing the Wrong People

The wave of layoffs is a slow-rolling catastrophe, warn MIT professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee – Bloomberg

The coronavirus crisis will transform the global economy in ways that are hard to anticipate. Consider, for example, automation: As executives face difficult decisions about what to do with their workforces, might they opt for more machines over humans?

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

Andrew McAfee: “Recessions cause companies to pay closer attention to costs. When you look at the history of recessions, there’s an interesting pattern: Employment rebounds more slowly after each one. Technology keeps advancing and can do more and more tasks that used to require humans. After each successive downturn, those tasks remain automated.”

Andrew McAfee: “But it’s important to realize that this combination of automation and recessions does not cause permanent unemployment. Innovators and entrepreneurs come up with new offerings that fuel growth. So employment rebounds. The same thing will happen this time. We’re confident that this recession will not mark the start of large-scale technological unemployment.”

Erik Brynjolfsson: “But what we’re seeing right now is a slow-rolling catastrophe as trillions of dollars of human capital is being cut loose. Many of those laid off have exactly the skills that will be desperately needed when the economy rebounds. Companies plan layoffs without paying much attention to who they’re going to need on the other side of the recession.”

Erik Brynjolfsson: “The smarter way to do it is to reason from the endpoint back: What kind of company do we want to have in the future? What skills will we need to benefit from machine learning and other breakthroughs? Companies will still need people with creative skills, interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, and in a whole bunch of other areas where humans beat machines. Let’s make sure we don’t send these skills out the door right now during the crisis, because it’ll only become harder to get them back.”

Full article at Bloomberg

Where Schools Reopen, Distancing, and Disinfectant Are the New Coronavirus Routine

Countries that open classrooms model a regimented future for students, with rules for work and play – Wall Street Journal

This week, Denmark became the first European country to reopen schools after over a month in lockdown. Across the world, the process is shaping up as protracted, fraught with complex rules and vulnerable to setbacks as new clusters of infections appear.

  • The Tingbjerg school, like others in Denmark, must be disinfected twice a day. In classrooms, the distance between desks can’t be less than two meters (6.5 feet). With only up to 10 children allowed in a classroom.
  • In Germany, the country’s disease control agency said older students, more likely to follow hygiene and distancing rules, will reopen first. Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that a phased reopening would begin on May 4.
  • South Korea, hit early but managed to slow the spread of the virus, began its school year on April 9 with online classes. No reopening date has been set, but schools with more than 600 students are setting up thermal cameras, and face masks have been procured for students, following guidelines from the education ministry.

Full article at Wall Street Journal

New Face of Work: Bathrooms Replace Conference Rooms

Recent survey reveals how work has a completely new look as employees around the world adapt to the realities or working from home – Yahoo Finance

In the blink of an eye, remote work went from an experiment to a requirement. Beds have become desks, bathrooms serve as conference rooms, kids and pets crash virtual meetings and cameras thought to be off capture awkward moments and sounds. Yet, workers remain as, if not more, productive and engaged.

In a recent survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Citrix Systems, Inc, 2.000 U.S workers responded:

  • 25% sleep in “a little more”
  • 34% shower every day
  • 25% can focus better and get work done more quickly
  • 64% were sharing the home-office with a partner
  • 62% take calls in the bedroom or bathroom
  • 25% get half-dressed to “look nice on video calls”
  • 28% will look for a new job, allowing permanent remote work

Full article at Yahoo Finance

Coursera Offers Help to Universities Hit by Coronavirus

Online learning group grants free access to teaching platform for institutions in lockdown – Financial Times

Coursera is offering any university hit by coronavirus lockdowns free access to its online teaching platform, as the online education provider seeks to bolster its role as a legitimate alternative to campus-based study.

“As a platform committed to serving learners everywhere, we are launching a global effort to help mitigate the impact on higher ed institutions,” said Jeff Maggioncalda, Coursera’s chief executive.

Coursera, whose courses can be taken entirely online, will modify existing programmes on its “Coursera for Campus” platform for open access. It will also make it easy for universities to offer existing Coursera content, devised by universities and other training providers, to students without interruption.

Full article at Financial Times

Sizing Up the Coronavirus’s Hit to the U.S Job Market

Analysis finds temporary losses, short-term gains and hiring freezes – Wall Street Journal

Business disruptions caused by the coronavirus have driven many millions of Americans to seek unemployment benefits, a pace, and scale of damage to the labor market unseen in decades. A Wall Street Journal examination of some timely indicators over recent weeks found undercurrents of the pain and some reasons for hope.

Takeaways include:

  • Employers expect their initial cutbacks to be temporary
  • Many workers still on the job are seeing their hours cut
  • Companies are adopting hiring freezes
  • Among those hiring – pharmacies, online vendors, supermarkets and delivery services – there is an urgent need for labor

Full article at Wall Street Journal

UK Government Set to Pull the Plug on MBA Apprenticeships

Scrutiny of senior executives’ use of workplace training scheme – Financial Times

A controversial MBA apprenticeship scheme that allowed companies in England to send senior executives to business school with money earmarked for on-the-job training is set to be axed. The decision is expected to be confirmed in early June when the government is due to publish a review of MBA apprenticeships.

Under the changes, employers will still be allowed to spend the levy on high-level leadership training but it would be less attractive as participants would no longer receive a masters degree at the end of the programme.

There were 6,387 starts on MBA apprenticeship programmes in the U.K up to the end of the first quarter of 2019/20.

Full article at Financial Times

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Talent weekly is a curated selection of the world news on talent, education, and work. Brought to you by the editorial desk of Future Talent Council. You can access this week’s full edition here, and sign up to receive these weekly updates here.



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