“Anticipating Workforce Needs” featured Bay Area and Silicon Valley industry and tech experts to discuss how independent colleges and universities can prepare students with the skills they need to succeed in the workforce of today and throughout long careers. This Plenary Session featured three panelists: Katie Ferrick, senior director of workplace programs, LinkedIn; Cinthia Lopez, Director of Talent Outreach, Google; and Van Ton-Quinlivan, CEO, Futuro Health, who emphasized the need for liberal arts skills as well as technical skills in the preparation of the workforce of the future.
People often associate jobs in the tech sector or health care field with hard skills such as computer science and software engineering. However, as tech companies grow, they rely more and more on soft skills such as problem solving, adaptability, curiosity, and leadership, central parts of a liberal arts education that are essential to innovation and to organizational success. In spite of the concern surrounding the “Great Resignation,” the panel argued that not only must graduates be prepared to enter the workforce, but that the workforce must also undergo a “Great Retooling” as needed jobs demand generalists in addition to specialists.
Campus leaders discussed their concerns with faculty and staff retention. Sessions such as “How to Manage Changing Workplace Expectations of Faculty and Staff” highlighted the importance of culture, inclusivity, accountability, and recognition; professional development opportunities; incentives; and maintaining morale by considering wholistic employee benefits such as well-being and mental and financial health programs.