April KDL series focuses on ‘The Future of Work’

Image of a woman in water, Foreign Policy Association's Great Decisions 2020 briefing book cover

Globalization. Automation. Underemployment and the gig economy. What are the trends that have been shaping patterns of work? How will government, industry and educators respond to the new opportunities and challenges created by change? Just as importantly, how do people imagine new possibilities in their local roles as workers and citizens in a global and tech-driven economy, so that we can positively affect the future of work?

There's plenty to discuss here, and the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan in partnership with the Kent District Library (KDL), will aim its annual April conversation series on “The Future of Work.”

The three-part series will be on three Tuesdays in April, on the 14th, 21st and 28th, all at the Wyoming Branch of KDL, 3350 Michael SW, from 6:30-7:30 p.m., with free admission and parking.

Kristin Sharp of Entangled Solutions will lead off the series on April 14, speaking on “Global Trends Shaping the Future of Work.”

Sharp’s research focuses on building out the future of work, automation, and ed/workforce technologies portfolios. Prior to her work at Entangled, she co-founded the Shift Commission at New America, a Washington D.C. think-tank, which examined the impact of automation and AI on the workforce. Sharp also worked on technology, innovation and national security policy in the U.S. Senate, functioning in senior staff roles for senators and committees on both sides of the political aisle.

Sharp will also host a business roundtable and workshop on Wednesday, April 15, at the University Club in downtown Grand Rapids. Information on that event can be found here.

On the 21st, Attah Obande of Spring GR, a local entrepreneurial support venture, will lead a panel discussion on “Entrepreneur Experiences in the Changing Economy: Local Perspectives.”

Obande is the director of dream fulfillment at Spring GR and spent years in banking and design consulting before coming to the business start-up organization.

Spring GR calls itself a “grassroots business training experience” that assists people in developing their business plans. The organization makes local connections for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and lends support through the process.

Finally, on April 28, Dr. Bill Pink, the president of Grand Rapids Community College, will talk about “How Industry and Education Must Work Together for Growth in West Michigan.”

Pink became the tenth president of GRCC in 2017, after serving as vice president and dean for workforce development at the college. As an educator for over 25 years, and a leader in higher education, he previously served as vice president for academic affairs at Oklahoma State University in Oklahoma City. Pink also serves on the boards of West MichiganWorks, The Employers’ Association in Grand Rapids and The Right Place.

More information about “The Future of Work” series may be found here.