Lifelong Learning in Demand

Graduates attend Kalamazoo College Commencement

Ever heard of a “superjob”? If not, you soon will.

Also called “hybrid jobs,” they are defined as positions that formally combine tasks once performed by people in two or more traditional roles. As the global economy has evolved, organizations have learned to “do more with less”. That, plus technology taking on much of the work people used to do, has led to the evolution of superjobs across many fields.

So, what does it take to perform well in a superjob? Mental agility is the top characteristic Laszlo Bock, Google’s former culture chief and now head of the HR start-up Humu, looks for in new hires.

Mary Jo King, the president of the National Résumé Writers’ Association, says companies are looking for “someone who can be all, do all, and pivot on a dime to solve any problem.”

Hmm…. That sounds a lot like the typical liberal arts graduate to me.

A traditional liberal arts and sciences education encourages students to develop critical thinking and communication skills, to be data fluent, and—above all—to be lifelong learners. Liberal arts graduates are known for being flexible enough to see connections that aren’t necessarily obvious and for considering solutions that others might not find. (This is as true for the biology and economics majors as for the graduates with degrees in English or philosophy!)

Guess who else believes an analytical, creative, agile thinker is the employee of the future? The U.S. Navy. This fascinating article in The Atlantic describes how the Navy is retooling its forces and doing away with specialized roles in favor of … you guessed it: superjobs.

By encouraging sailors to become multifaceted, flexible, and even entrepreneurial, the U.S. Navy is following the lead set by liberal arts colleges.

Perhaps the employee of the future is a liberal arts graduate.