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  • Writer's pictureProject on Workforce Team

Future Frontiers: Shaping Journeys into the Future of Work

By Alexis Williams, Jean Luc Nsabimana, and Mannat Singh


The future of work is rapidly changing. Advancements in technology, paired with glaring gaps between education and employment, pose significant risks to existing jobs and require collaborative thinking to advance the future workforce. Enter The Future of Work Study Group at Harvard. Offered by the Project on Workforce during the spring semester, the study group brings together students from across Harvard schools to foster a comprehensive understanding of emerging trends in education and employment. This year, the study group was led by Alexis Williams (Harvard Business School & Harvard Kennedy School), Mannat Singh (Harvard Kennedy School), and Jean Luc Nsabimana (Harvard Graduate School of Education).

 

The recruitment process for the Future of Work Study Group is a diverse cohort of students representing a range of perspectives. This year, we had an exceptional cohort of  59 graduate students from Harvard's Kennedy School, Graduate School of Education, Business School, and Graduate School of Design. Based on their area of interest, students were placed into smaller groups focusing on a key theme relevant to the future of work:


  • Regional Workforce & Economic Development

  • Reskilling, Upskilling, & Lifelong Learning

  • Technological Change & the Evolving Nature of Work

  • Economic Justice & Inequality

  • Entrepreneurship, Investing, & Innovation    

  • Connections Between Education & Careers


Over the semester, students met in their small groups to delve into their chosen area of interest. By discussing academic papers and news articles and drawing from their own experiences, students both learned from and with each other. Beyond group discussions, the cohort had opportunities to engage with workforce development via speaker events, lunch and learns, and faculty office hours. 


The speaker events were highly anticipated; Chike Aguh and Kathleen deLaski kicked off the series, emphasizing the importance of innovation in an evolving world. With global challenges in education and with much demand from students to bring international cases to the cohort, the next speaker session highlighted gender in Indian education with guest speaker Urvashi Sahni. The speaker events concluded with Tessa Forshaw, Matthias Oschinski, and Cavin Mozarmi, who focused on the rapidly evolving technology on everyone's mind—from the role of AI in education and regulation of AI for policymakers, to the future of work through a venture capital lens.


The faculty office hours and lunch & learns were informal ways for students to meet Professors outside the classroom. The group met with David Deming, Joseph Fuller, and Raffaella Sadun to answer career-related questions, and discuss the importance of the future of work in a broader context.


Below, study group members, guests, and staff share about the impact the study group has had:



Study Group Members


The Project on Workforce Study Group was such a phenomenal addition to my spring semester. Meeting students across schools and disciplines brought a real sense of community and also helped reinforce that this field is truly an interdisciplinary intersection of education, policy, and business. I looked forward to our discussions each session and also learned so much from each one of the amazing speakers we heard from. The combination of peer-to-peer engagement plus opportunities for office hours and lunch & learns with experts in the field helped really push my thinking. Would highly recommend it!“ 


-Logan Currie, 2024 Cohort



“Participating in the Harvard Project on Workforce study group has been a transformative experience. This initiative brings together insights from three distinct academic areas—education, policy, and business—each providing a critical perspective on the future of work. Prior to Harvard, I mainly focused on creating strategies for adult learners to reskill and upskill themselves–but my time as an HPoW study group member has broadened my understanding of this issue. Through discussions with peers and experts, this study group highlighted the importance of collaboration among all key players, including employers, educators, and policymakers, to drive innovation and progress. I can't recommend enough this study group for those passionate about ensuring an inclusive and equitable workforce of the future.” 


-Heidi Nadhira, 2024 Cohort



“As a discussion lead for the group on Technological Change and the Evolving Nature of Work, I’ve gained valuable insights from the diverse expertise of members, speakers, and leaders from academia and industry. The various study group meetings, small group discussions, faculty lunches, and expert lectures offered an enriching understanding of a complex, interdisciplinary subject. Above all, it’s been wonderful to be part of an inspiring, Harvard-wide community of people united by a shared, meaningful passion for shaping the future of work!”  


-Vasundhara Dash, 2024 Cohort



“The study group provided me with a platform to gain multi-disciplinary insights and knowledge regarding the future of work. We had the opportunity to interact with experts who are at the forefront of the topic—learning from their lived experiences. I also thoroughly enjoyed the peer discussions, where we got to know each other, shared our experiences, and exchanged different perspectives on the future of work.” 


-Farih Rahim, 2024 Cohort




“This study group has been a significant part of my three years at Harvard. As a joint degree student, this space helped bridge my experiences and passions across both of my schools and areas of study. It has also reinforced my confidence in the type of creativity and insight only possible when diverse multidisciplinary groups come together. The challenges we face are dauntingly complex, but this study group has always given me hope that we can build the coalitions necessary to spark change.”


-Alexis Williams, 2024 Co-Lead



Serving as a co-lead for the 2024 Harvard Project on Workforce study group has been an honor; our work in the study group has solidified my belief that the future of work isn't just about predicting changes in technology or job markets but about creating robust, adaptable systems of education and workforce development that can thrive under any conditions. It's about ensuring that all individuals have the opportunity to achieve their potential and contribute meaningfully to our global society. This includes redefining pathways to upward mobility—making them more inclusive and adaptive to the rapid pace of technological change. The challenge lies not only in developing technical skills but also in fostering the adaptability and critical thinking necessary to thrive in an unpredictable global workforce landscape.” 


-Jean Luc Nsabimana, 2024 Co-Lead



“I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to serve as a Student Lead representing Harvard Kennedy School for the Future of Work study group! Having been both a study group member and a summer fellow at the Project on Workforce, I've witnessed firsthand the immense value that this group brings and the exceptional work our members have accomplished. It's incredibly inspiring to witness students from various schools uniting around a common area of interest. The passion and dedication with which students engage with one another truly enriches the experience and reinforces my unwavering belief in the promising future of work!” 


-Mannat Singh, 2024 Co-Lead 



"The study group is core to the Project on Workforce mission. It connects business students with educators; and bridges future policymakers and entrepreneurs. Scholars from different backgrounds and academic disciplines, with unique perspectives and approaches to problem-solving, are able to learn with and from one another. It is also a space for students to engage with leaders in the field and explore what careers in workforce development might look like. We know that in order to build a stronger, more equitable workforce development system, we need to bring together committed individuals in government, business, and education. We believe the study group is a step in that direction." 


-Kerry Mckittrick & Nathalie Gazzaneo, Co-Directors, Harvard Project on Workforce



Learn more about upcoming student opportunities at the Project on Workforce.



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