The Future Landscape of Work

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By Valencia Valentine Hamman, Co-Director of College Counseling

At a recent family gathering, with guests from 10-year-olds to grandparents, the younger relatives were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. As I listened to the responses, I heard answers I expected, such as teacher, doctor and lawyer, but I also heard game designer and computer developer—options that didn’t exist a short time ago. I began to wonder what the future of work would look like and the role of schools in preparing students for the world they will enter.

The fundamentals of secondary education take on an even more significant meaning as educators and counselors prepare students for college and beyond. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average college graduate will have at least 10 different jobs before age 40. The Bureau expects this number will grow even higher. This prediction tells us the value and significance of developing various skills which will be translatable to many careers in a lifetime.  

Students who study liberal arts may be viewed as generalists, specializing in nothing. However, these students are often creative thinkers and communicators. Their strengths are often seen in critical thinking, writing, analyzing data, quantitative reasoning, communication, studying human nature, belief systems and societies, and the ability to adapt to change. All of these skills are beneficial in a wide variety of professions. 

As we think about our place in 2022, the question arises, “How does technology fit in?” Scott Harley, a venture capitalist and author of The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World, states, “In many cases, technology will not replace human workers. It will liberate people to spend more time on aspects of work that require human skills, such as complex problem solving.”

In The Caliper: A Whole Student Approach to Education, author John Wheeler discusses newly created jobs. He cites an online panel from the “New Shape of Work” in October 2020, when Mike Belcher, director of EdTech Innovation at HP, stated, “STEM is huge right now,” and stressed, “Colleges need to help students cultivate essential and foundational skills: flexibility and self-reinvention, deep problem-solving skills and high levels of creativity to thrive in these careers.” Belcher further indicated, “These are the skills that make us successful in what we do, and when we combine those with technical skills, that is where we see really great things happening. I think this is where we have opportunities for students in the future.” Wheeler shares that collaboration is “crucial to ensure all post-secondary learners have the skills they need to succeed in the workforce.”

While students at LJCDS can pursue and elevate their passions in specific fields (e.g., computer science, social justice, music), they are also encouraged to explore interests and opportunities that make them well-rounded scholars. The computer programmer is also a gifted pianist and music composer. The innovation student who is engineering a new idea also has a passion for outdoor photography.LJCDS students develop skills in collaboration, reasoning and applying what they learn in the classroom to real-world applications, along with the foundational skills in writing, communication and strengths in quantitative reasoning and technical skills. College encourages exploration and the development of soft skills that will be critical as our students stretch their minds while exploring all corners of their education. The world is in good hands as our Torreys are poised to shape the future of work.

Valencia Valentine Hamman
Valencia Valentine Hamman

Co-Director of College Counseling

Valencia Valentine Hamman joined the La Jolla Country Day School college counseling staff in 2007 after spending more than 20 years working in college admission. A native of Peoria, Ill., Ms. Valentine Hamman began her admission career at Beloit College in Wisconsin, where she worked for four years. Then she moved to San Diego, where she was a member of the admission staff at the University of San Diego for more than 12 years. Ms. Valentine Hamman also worked as a West Coast regional representative for Cornell University for four years, recruiting students from all over the West to attend Cornell. Admission work began for her as a way to give back to her alma mater, but it has become a lifelong passion

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