Unlocking New Opportunities for People Hard-hit by Automation and Globalization

Jean Shia
Jean Shia May 25, 2021 1 min read

A Zinc Learning Report

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Automation and globalization are two of the biggest forces shaping the future of work and our wider society, with gross inequities between winners and losers. To address these inherent inequalities, we back systems and solutions that help at-risk workers prosper in the era of automation in service of a more equitable future.

Jean Shia, Head of Portfolio & Investment The Autodesk Foundation

At the Autodesk Foundation, we have been grappling with the challenges and opportunities that automation presents to the global workforce since 2017. Automation and globalization are two of the biggest forces shaping the future of work and our wider society, with gross inequities between winners and losers. To address these inherent inequalities, we back systems and solutions that help at-risk workers prosper in the era of automation in service of a more equitable future.

We partnered with Zinc over the last two years to support its venture building program focused on unlocking opportunities for people and communities left behind by these forces. We felt a wholly new method was needed in the workforce development ecosystem, one that was not unduly reliant on individual worker upskilling or sectoral job creation, which can leave communities vulnerable to the next wave of technological disruption. Zinc intentionally takes a different path by addressing the social and psychological barriers people face in navigating jobs and careers. The ventures that have been incubated through this program represent market-based and tech-enabled solutions underpinned by decades of social science research. They are tackling critical issues such as job quality, access and mobility, mental resilience, and social identities around work. Through both their progress and challenges, these ventures are redefining what a worker-centered approach can look like.

We are still at the beginning of a profound learning journey and know that this will require a risk-tolerant approach in order to uncover new or unconventional ways to address the inequities around the future of work. But we believe those of us in philanthropy need to be continuously looking for new ways to address these deep systemic issues.

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