Eavesdropping in Houston
Overheard: Experts weigh in on the future of the workforce in Houston
As the new decade approaches, there are a lot of questions about the future of the workforce in Houston. Will automation revolutionize jobs? Is technology evolving too quickly for training and education to keep up? And, can corporations adapt their work environments to account for the rise in freelancers?
At the launch of Houston's new General Assembly location, a panel of Houstonians moderated by Joey Sanchez of Houston Exponential addressed these questions and more earlier this month. The global digital skill development organization will launch a three-month software engineering program in January along with workshops and introductory courses before rolling out other part- and full-time courses in 2020.
One of the big focuses of GA is increasing accessibility for these programs, and the organization will have several options for courses, including some that will be available online.
"People are getting left behind, and I think that's one of the things GA has put a lot of pride behind as we've gone into new markets is just increasing the diversity and accessibility into these opportunities," Eric Partlow, says regional director at General Assembly in Texas.
From the rise of freelancers to Houston's data-driven future, here's what the Bayou City can expect to see when it comes to the future of the workforce.
“Automation can be scary, and it can automate a plethora of repetitive tasks, but that frees people up to create new jobs that require more critical thinking and creativity.”
— Grace Rodriguez, CEO and executive director of Impact Hub Houston. Rodriguez gives the example of how automation affected the banking industry. As ATMs were installed, it made it easier and cheaper for banks to open more branches, which ultimately led to hiring more tellers. "Rather than be afraid of automation, we should see it as augmentation," Rodriguez says.
“We have more access to data than we’ve ever had, and we still are trying to figure out what to do with it, and we don’t know yet. I think Houston’s set up to do a lot of really special things.”
— Eric Partlow, regional director at General Assembly in Texas. When asked about the future of the workforce in Houston, Partlow says it's all about the data. Partlow also wants to set up GA so that its providing the right education for Houston jobs — every market is different, he says. "If we're not teaching what businesses here are needing, then we need to pivot to adjust that."
“We’ve been working in the background to help make Houston a hub for serious gaming."
— Chad Modad, chief technology officer of Accenture's Houston Innovation Hub. Modad explains that serious gaming is taking the engaging aspects of mobile design and video games and applying this technology — along with AI and machine learning — into the things you have to do everyday at work. "We'll always be a hub for industrial enterprises, so applying this across that spectrum of problems, that's where I think we're headed," Modad says.
“The more I get into the democratization of work, the more I get really excited about the possibility of the future and where we can go.”
— Steve Rader, deputy director for the Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation at NASA. When asked about what he wants to see in Houston, Rader advocated for the city to be a more welcoming environment for freelance workers, since more and more people are leaving the corporate structure for these types of positions. Houston can set itself up to be a great ecosystem for this, Rader says.