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Education Now

Pathways to Careers with Purpose

A new Education Now considers the evolving job prospects for high school and college students amid the rise of artificial intelligence and other technological changes

Recent research shows that many young adults are struggling to find purpose or meaning in their lives and work. This episode considers new ways to help high school and college students discern their vocations and pursue fulfilling careers in an age where job prospects are evolving, thanks to artificial intelligence and other technological changes, and where financial uncertainty affects the daily lives of many young people. 


  • Peter Blair, assistant professor of education and co-director of The Project on Workforce, HGSE
  • Clayton Spencer, president emerita, Bates College
  • Michelle Weise, author, Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs that Don't Even Exist Yet, leader of Rise and Design


Francesca Purcell, senior lecturer on education, HGSE

Key Takeaways

  1. To find purposeful work, start with figuring out who you are. Reflect on your interests, strengths, and values, and then begin the process of aligning those attributes with career options. 
  2. Younger learners can benefit greatly from exposure to multiple job opportunities – this enables them to explore different career options early on and find out what they care about.
  3. In an uncertain and turbulent working world, we need to design an ongoing educational ecosystem to better serve the needs of everyone including mature learners.
  4. Employers can help create meaningful pathways of mobility for people with high school diplomas but no degrees. “STARs” are those who have been “skilled through alternative routes,” such as work experience, rather than a bachelor’s degree.

Education Now

A webinar and newsletter series to shape new approaches to challenges in education

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