Village Capital
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Village Capital

The Future of Work

What happens when you put 30+ hackers, strategists, and thinkers about the Future of Work in a room for the day? A lot.

In her 1963 autobiography, Tomorrow is Now, Eleanor Roosevelt said (misquoting Spinoza) “We ourselves can make experience valuable when, by imagination and reason, we turn it into foresight.”

If Roosevelt played a major role in redefining the US labor economy in her day, another redefinition is underway today. Advances in technology have changed the identification of talent and skill acquisition; automation is disrupting what any given job entails; and the “gig economy” is changing the way we think about what it means to have a job. All these changes have lead calls for a new social contract for America’s workforce.

On November 29, Village Capital and the Hitachi Foundation hosted a Future of Work Forum to address these challenges, bringing together 13 startup founders innovating around the workforce challenges of the future. Together with over 30 other experts, we shared our experiences in order to turn them into foresight, and collaboratively, predict, assess, and plan for, what the future of work will hold.

My colleague Irene Chung and I represented StellarEmploy, a jobs marketplace for fast food, cleaning, and distribution positions. We use a technology to assess job applicants and connect them to the jobs where they are most likely to perform well, enjoy the tasks they are assigned, and stay longer.

Officially, StellarEmploy walked away with a $5,000 prize in recognition of our product. But more importantly, we left with a new network of founders who are also working toward working on innovations around the changing workforce.

Hitachi Foundation President & CEO Barbara Dyer leading a conversation on regulating the gig economy. (Photo credit: Village Capital)

Like the other companies, StellarEmploy is a for-profit company with a strong business case: we have demonstrated that we reduce turnover and improve productivity. And like the other companies, our team is united behind building a technology that creates opportunities for people who wouldn’t otherwise have them.

We kicked off the day swapping stories about how our values as a company can become an asset to attracting talent that is invested our success. By the time we broke for lunch, we were excited to be surrounded by companies whose goals were similar, but whose backgrounds and histories were diverse.

Trying to hire a team which is both ethnically and professionally diverse for a tech company? May we suggest you check out Blendoor, which offers blind recruiting for high-level positions, or 2020 Shift, which facilitates training and placement for people transitioning into tech. Or check out InReturn Strategies, which helps businesses engage with people with disabilities as a resource or a market.

Thinking about how the digital divide is affecting the job market, and what to about it? May I present Work America, whose professional platform is geared towards professionals coming out of community or technical schools, or LaborX, tantalizingly described as “the LinkedIn for the LinkedOut.”

We streamed into lunch, chattering away, peppering each other with questions: What’s the turnover like in the New Orleans hospitality industry? What’s the typical android data plan like for a community college student in Appalachia? What percentage of home nurses currently rely on youtube videos to train themselves?

The conversation continued, equally excitedly but with more structure, after the pitch competition and panel, when we divided into small groups to discuss specific topics that define the Future of Work today. My table, debating the digital divide in the labor market, agreed that the biggest challenge was increasing familiarity with the professional opportunities. And then we enthusiastically created a zillion-point list of ways to solve that problem. On the other side of the room, the 1099 economy discussion got a little too heated around the role of regulation.

By the time the closing cocktail party came around, my fellow participants and I had shared much of our experiences thinking about the Future of Work and profitable ways to create professional opportunities in the new work environment. We haven’t quite arrived at Eleanor Roosevelt’s predicted prescience through experience, but that one day of knowledge-swapping brought us several months’ work closer.

Learn more about StellarEmploy at http://www.stellaremploy.com/.

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Blog for Village Capital. We're reinventing the system to back the entrepreneurs of the future - a future where business creates equity and long-term prosperity.

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Sara Nadel

Sara Nadel

Cofounder @ StellarEmploy. COO @ Learning Collider. Using data to make the world better. Former Academic. Honorary Peruvian.