Higher Salaries for Tech Jobs. While the tech industry has always had a talent gap, it’s still widening. Expect salaries for some of the most in-demand jobs — like software developer, data scientist, data analyst, and cybersecurity analyst — to continue to balloon.

When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.

As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Sanam Raza.

Sanam works to bridge the world’s skills gap by bringing Springboard’s accessible, mentor-led, project-based learning to the US Higher Education market. For the past nine years, Sanam has leveraged her expertise in education and upskilling to help universities develop strategies for their online programs. Prior to joining Springboard, she led the largest online program management globally for Pearson Online Learning Services.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.

Living and working in different countries helped me build empathy for different people and their life circumstances. I learned to listen and observe without judgment or planning a response. This trait has been a game changer for me in my professional life.

My father worked in building education policy and my mother is a middle school science teacher. A passion for education and access runs deep in my family.

Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?

The workforce is going through great upheaval, and it’s largely by nature of the changing jobs in our economy. As the Great Resignation shows, many Americans are done with service and retail jobs — they’re difficult, they don’t pay particularly well, and they don’t offer the flexibility that has flourished in the last two years. Working adults who aren’t in a position to enroll in a full degree program need a flexible alternative. At Springboard, our university partnerships are that alternate pathway.

You can imagine the many people who have long wanted an option like this — recently graduated high school students who are interested in starting a career as soon as possible, mothers returning to the workforce for the first time in years, those who want training in a tech career without the burden of student loan debt.

What I predict will change in the workplace in the near future is that the tech industry will be full of workers from diverse backgrounds, educational and otherwise. In the tech workplace, where results are everything, the model of portfolio building and project-based learning, like we prioritize at Springboard, will provide new sources of great talent.

What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?

The best thing to do is to encourage and support employees to continue their learning experience throughout their career. In tech as in all careers, you’re never done learning. The rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence offers a world of possibility in terms of efficiency and innovation, but only if workers are up to date with the latest and greatest tools. Training and education that is geared toward specific use cases and careers will be highly valuable to employers.

What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?

One piece I’d like to focus on is in hiring. Workers today are in the driver’s seat, particularly in the tech industry where a talent gap has led to more open jobs than ever. For employers, that means streamlining the hiring process to focus on those elements that matter the most in a prospective hire. Employers should streamline the number of interviews and application requirements and reprioritize on demonstration of skill. Our students graduate with hands-on experience in their field with portfolios to back them up. What better way to find the right fit than by having an interviewee walk through a recent project, explaining their process? Those kinds of demonstrations showcase ability that can be hidden behind minimum years of experience requirements.

We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?

Those who had the flexibility to work from home have learned how freeing work can be without geographical boundaries. When I think of the future of work in the tech industry, I think of how many more people will have the opportunity to participate. While it was once essential for a prospective worker to study and work in tech hubs like Silicon Valley, or New York, or Boston, we work with several university partners and have students in partnered programs studying UI/UX design at Louisiana State University, cybersecurity at the University of South Florida, and software engineering at the University of Massachusetts Global, and they will have options to work from where they are upon graduation. There are major implications for diversity in the industry.

We’ve all read the headlines about how the pandemic reshaped the workforce. What societal changes do you foresee as necessary to support a future of work that works for everyone?

The pandemic disrupted all of our lives in different ways. Students and young people today are already on a different path than any generation before. Undergraduate enrollment has declined in the last two years, and many prospective students joined the workforce early to support themselves and their families. Many other workers realized that they needed to make a significant life or career change. So let’s do away with ideas about what the ideal candidate looks like, or what the correct path should be. The future of work acknowledges the diversity of pathways each person takes in their life.

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

I’m excited by the fields that haven’t yet emerged that will one day be some of the most exciting fields to work in. Springboard offers courses in cybersecurity, software engineering, and machine learning, to name a few. Just a few decades ago, those were niche or non-existent fields. It’s exciting to think about evolution in tech and the possibilities these fields will open.

Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?

I think we’ll continue to see work in our society trend toward an integrated part of our lives rather than a cordoned-off, inflexible block of time. Workers want the ability to do their jobs efficiently and on their own time, so employers need to ensure they have the tools at their disposal to do just that. That’s where ongoing skills development opportunities come into play.

It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?

The most important message is that workers are seizing control over their careers in a way that should be exciting for great companies. As the rise of bootcamps makes education more accessible, people are doing the work that feels meaningful to them. For tech companies that have struggled to find qualified talent, look no further — but prepare yourself for a new wave of workers who are eager and fresh and ready to learn.

Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”

  1. The Decline of Traditional College Enrollment. From fall 2020 to fall 2021, undergraduate enrollment fell by 4.3%. While some of that enrollment will recover as the pandemic fades into the rearview, employers should also be prepared to find talent with alternative education and experience.
  2. New Online Education Options. As undergraduate enrollment falls, higher education institutions are responding by offering new, flexible education options, particularly options that are online and asynchronous. Those courses, like the courses Springboard provides in partnership to universities around the country, are more accessible to working adults and those looking for a more streamlined education.
  3. Greater Resignations. Workers are leaving demanding, low-salary jobs that don’t offer flexibility because they have more options than ever to upgrade their careers. Expect more workers to continue surging into technical careers, and plan for how you will support the best talent to be your next hire.
  4. Higher Salaries for Tech Jobs. While the tech industry has always had a talent gap, it’s still widening. Expect salaries for some of the most in-demand jobs — like software developer, data scientist, data analyst, and cybersecurity analyst — to continue to balloon.
  5. More Divergent Career Paths. The days of having a single career are over. Expect the workforce of the future to change careers multiple times as the economy evolves and their personal circumstances and interests evolve. And keep an open mind as an employer — workers who have experience as, say, a server, an accountant, and a coder will bring a diversity of experience and skill as valuable as a specialized expert.

I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” — Albert Einstein

This belief has guided me in my professional life. I feel success is a natural outcome when you endeavor to bring value to teammates, customers and partners. Being of value is the goal. I am always thinking about how to be of most value to learners and university partners.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.

Michelle Obama!

Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?

Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.

You can find me on LinkedIn or stay up to date with Springboard on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. Also, check out success stories from our students here!

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.

Thank you for having me.