28/10/16

The Economist hosts provocative debate on the future of work in London to prepare students for the real world

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The event, hosted at University College London, stimulated discussion around the jobs and skills of tomorrow and connected The Economist with a new generation of readers

Will robots substitute people in the future? Is AI a threat or an opportunity? What will the global workforce look like in 2050? The Economist and Sense are hosting Trending Topics: The Future of Work, a series of student-focused interactive debates, which aim to answer these questions. The first London-based event, targeting 18 to 35-year-olds, took place on 2 November 2016 at University College London.

As a smart guide to the forces that shape our future, The Economist is uniquely positioned to facilitate debate on future jobs and whether the education that students are receiving today will future-proof them for a successful career.

SVP of circulation and retail marketing for The Economist, Marina Haydn, said: “Thanks to rapid technological change and a more globalised world, we’ll be seeing many jobs 10 years from now that don’t even exist today. There will be a new collaboration between artificial intelligence and people that will be more thoroughly defined in the years to come. The Economist’s journalists regularly write about and analyse this fascinating transformation that is not without challenges.”

Editors from The Economist led the event, joined by a panel of speakers and an audience of progressive, internationally minded students spanning educational disciplines. The event opened with two teams of students debating the motion: ‘Does our education future-proof us for today’s job market?’, with the audience voting for the most compelling team. An expert panel of high profile speakers then discussed the impact technology will have on jobs, after which there was an interactive Q&A session. The evening finished with networking.

The event was led by Economist Editors Ryan Avent and John McDermott. Panelists included:

  • David Cole, UK Lead for Telco, Media and Entertainment at IBM Watson
  • Pip Jamieson, Founder and CEO at The Dots
  • Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management Practice, London Business School
  • Carl Gombrich, Programme Director of Arts and Sciences, University College London
  • Andrew Heath, Managing Director at AlphaSights

Talking about the event, Hayley James, Account Director at Sense, said: “Students are bombarded with over 5,000 marketing messages a day and so brands that are looking to engage with this audience must create content that inspires, educates or entertains to gain traction. This series of live debates has been devised primarily to educate students on a topic that is highly pertinent to them, in a live event format to ensure authenticity and cut through.”

Summing up the first event, Haydn said: “We were very pleased to  be able to provide students with a real-world Economist platform to actively partake in a discussion on the future of work. This was the first live element of a global joint editorial and engagement campaign around the future of work, which to date has been led by digital content marketing.

“A key takeaway was that as long as students are flexible, open to change and continue to learn and develop during their careers, they will be able to strongly complement and not compete with tomorrow’s technological solutions that will impact today’s workforce. It was encouraging to sense optimism around a subject that is often viewed as an insurmountable challenge – and hear from participants that they felt our event was valuable.”

The initiative was backed by a subscription offer to The Economist. Students could take out a 12-week trial subscription for £12 and their £5 entrance fee was then waived.

Trending Topics: The Future of Work took place from 5pm-9.30pm on 2 November at the Cruciform Building LT1, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT.

For more information, visit www.economist.com/future

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