Future of Work: Universities must keep up with market demands or risk displacement

Noorjit Sidhu, future of work investor at Plug & Play, reached out after seeing my LinkedIn post about joining Catalyte and how reskilling ties to my parents’ immigration story. He wanted to connect over the future of work. We jumped on a fun phone call and Noorjit followed-up with a list of questions for me. Being the (proud) nerd I am, I’m excited to write up my answers and share them with you in a Future of Work Series. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

NS: We’re seeing both enterprises and startups increasingly get into EdTech to solve tech skill deficits. How do you see universities (and, if possible to see, primary / secondary schools) evolving in response?

LT: It is difficult to tell whether universities, primary or secondary schools are evolving in response to enterprise and startup activity due to their different customer targets and goals. Enterprises and startups can, and want to, support the upskilling or reskilling of individuals at any age, while universities are typically going after 17–18-year-olds coming from high school who want to earn a four-year college degree to then get a job. Additionally, reskilling and upskilling enterprises and startups don’t necessarily care if someone finished high school and most don’t really care if their students or customers get jobs after using their products or taking their courses. For universities, having their customers, their students, getting a job is an important factor for them. It’s similar to primary and secondary schools, they want to set their students up to succeed, go off to college and then get a job.

While a direct correlation between startup and enterprise skilling activity and traditional educational institutions may be weak, there are certain changes that schools are making to respond to the tech talent demand in the market. Across the board, primary and secondary schools and colleges are placing emphasis on STEM education. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, the number of STEM degrees is increasing on an annual basis. We’re also seeing colleges produce their own edtech products and develop partnerships with employers, enterprises, and startups.

The workforce is changing quickly. We’re moving from a degree-based world to a skills-based world. So, traditional schooling better keep up with market skill demands or it will get displaced. Just think, who wants to go into debt to get a degree from a school that will not get them a job?

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About Lolita Taub
Lolita Taub is the chief of staff at Catalyte, a TEDx speaker and an AI enthusiast, with a venture capital and enterprise tech background. She is a Venture Partner at NexGen, an LP at Portfolia’s Enterprise Fund and a former VC at Backstage Capital and K Fund. Lolita holds nearly a decade of enterprise B2B software, hardware and services sales experience at IBM, Cisco Systems and in Silicon Valley. She has a BA from the University of Southern California and an MBA from the IE Business School. Lolita has been recognized for her work on Forbes, Inc.com, The Huffington Post and Entrepreneur.com among other publications.

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