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The Future of Work Conference 2018: Good Jobs and Gigs

May 20, 2018

Panel Discussion: Good Jobs and Gigs

Moderator: Andrew McAfee, Co-Director, MITIDE


  •  Lavea Brachman, Vice President of Programs, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation
  • Sara Horowitz, Founder Emeritus, Freelancers Union
  • Fred Goff, CEO, Jobcase

Like it or not, we are hurtling into the on-demand, or gig, economy. Flexible, Internet-driven jobs have shown tremendous growth, though they are still a relatively small part of the economy. What’s next? At the April 27, 2018 Future of Work conference in New York, this panel discussed practical ways that employers and workers can navigate and prepare for the new world of work. A key focus was how to develop sustainable, competitive strategies where those at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder aren’t left without safety nets.

McAfee led off by saying that “the old-fashioned, stable, 40-hour-week, career-long, W-2-type employment –while not a thing of the past– is a decreasing share of Americans’ work lives,  and we can’t bring it back. However, if we handle our Second Machine Age economy correctly, it can be a better economy, not just for the Silicon Valley capitalists and entrepreneurs, but for working Americans all over the country, as well.”

He then asked the panel to “help us understand what you’re seeing.”

Disruption is the norm, they said. Workers in all fields must be more like “rock climbers than ladder-climbers,” as they navigate today’s circuitous career paths, according to Lavea Brachman. She is optimistic that some regions of the country, like Detroit, will find new opportunities for growth and technology jobs as old labor models are toppled.

Goff sees massive anxiety. “We keep hearing about full employment; are you kidding me? Nearly half (47%) of households do not have enough savings to cover an unexpected $400 expense. The gig economy is not a choice of wanting to be a 1099 worker; it’s work on top of other employment.”

Horowitz said: “We know that we need a safety net, but the transition hasn’t happened yet. We have to say, ‘This next safety net is going to be profoundly different.’ We can’t retrofit the New Deal to today’s work world.”


Watch the full vido of the discussion, here.