Preparing for the Future of Work

This is a guest post by Mayor Mark Stodola, Little Rock, Arkansas, president of the National League of Cities.

Since January, the National League of Cities has been looking at work in cities in a whole new way. We’ve been conducting new research, highlighting promising practices, engaging new partners, and publishing new resources.

Our focus is the future of work — and how city leaders can prepare their residents for it.

In April, we shared a resource that explores the key areas that should be considered when preparing for the future of work — supporting and scaling pathways to employment, equity and access, and the impact of emerging technologies.

Today, I’m excited share an update on our recent work with you here.

  • To continually explore the trends, ideas and institutions that intersect with our workforce, we launched a blog series featuring a variety of voices and perspectives. New pieces appear every other week on CitiesSpeak.
  • We’ve published three briefs on afterschool and summer learning to help city leaders strategize how to engage their youngest residents and take advantage of all the places where learning can occur. The briefs focus on college and career readiness, public safety, and workforce development.
  • We’ve released new research that analyzes the jobs and skills that are least and most at risk of disappearing due to automation. The report also provides recommendations for how cities can prepare for changes to come. You can access the report here: Assessing the Future of Our Work: Automation and the Role of Cities.
  • We’ve announced a new program, City Innovation Ecosystems, dedicated to helping cities thrive in the modern economy. If your city is committed to innovation, entrepreneurship, and STEM, please reach out to this program for more information.
  • We hosted the National Briefing on Mayoral Leadership for Building Equitable Pathways to Postsecondary and Workforce Success with Dr. Jill Biden and city leaders from across the country. The event focused on strategies cities are using to create pathways to workforce success for all residents. Interested leaders can watch the recording here.
  • And finally, to ensure an open line of communication with the private sector on these issues, we established the Future of Work Corporate Advisory Group, which includes representatives from Colonial Life, Comcast, Ford Motor Company, LinkedIn, Socrata, Square, Strada Education Network, Uber, and Walmart. We were proud to engage many of these companies and our philanthropic partners on this issue at our Capstone Leaders Forum in April.

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What’s clear from the list above is that the future of work isn’t just one thing – it’s many things. It’s about the pathways and supports that lead to educational and employment opportunities. It’s about the societal and technological changes to which we must adapt.

It’s also about the partnerships and private sector allies that are critical for cities today, and will be in the years to come. And, it’s about coming together as city leaders to share good ideas that work.

The good news is, in just a few short months, you all have a great opportunity to engage even more deeply on these issues at City Summit in Los Angeles, November 7-10. We’ve got a special future of work track that will explore issues ranging from the gig economy to ensuring equity in workforce development programs. You can get a preview of the future of work programming.

Thank you for your continued interest and support on this issue.

About the Author
: Mark Stodola is the mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas, and president of the National League of Cities (NLC), the largest organization representing America’s cities and their leaders. Stodola has served as mayor of Little Rock since January 2007.