Future of Work


A Guide for State Policymakers

47% of American jobs will be impacted by automation. 4 out of 5 CEOs say that skills gaps in creativity and problem-solving make hiring difficult. 99% of jobs created during the economic recovery went to workers with postsecondary education or training. 72% of Americans say education should be a top priority for political leaders

Are your high school students ready for the jobs of the future?


You know your state better than anybody. You know your schools, your educators, your families, your students. You know the businesses and institutions that fuel your economy, sustain your communities, and employ your people.


You know how fast the world is changing—how automation and advanced technology are fundamentally altering the American economy and making it harder for people without complex skills to find and keep well-paying jobs. And you know, as we do, the implications for your state’s economy and your education system.


To prepare for the future of work, we need to set a clear agenda to prepare the future workforce—and that agenda ties directly to our schools. But changing education in the ways we’ve tried in the past simply won’t be enough. What’s needed today is high school transformation, nothing less.


High schools are the fulcrum for a much broader set of priorities. When we change high schools, we drive improvement across the entire educational system, from kindergarten through higher ed. When we change high schools, we lay the groundwork for a highly skilled workforce, a vibrant economy, and thriving communities across the country.


We need high schools that are designed intentionally for the modern world. To create schools like that, we must act boldly and deliberately to reimagine high school itself. We need to draw on the best available examples and the most insightful research. And we need to rally everyone, from concerned parents to educators, business to community leaders, and students themselves.


Our young people face an uncertain future unless they get the education they need. Too many high school students aren’t graduating, and too many of those who do graduate aren’t ready for college or career. The problem is most acute for students from low-income families and students of color. And these same challenges are real in every part of the country—in big cities and small ones, rural areas and suburbs, and the countless communities in between.


Transformative change happens only with dynamic leadership from state policymakers like you. That’s what this guide is all about. We’ve collected the best examples and advice about policies, initiatives, and actions leaders can take to support local communities ready to embrace the historic changes ahead. We have also assembled evidence from innovative high schools and communities around the country to show what’s possible.


We hope these materials help as you make big, ambitious changes happen—as you work to make your state a bright spot in a growing national movement to reinvent high school, and leave a legacy for generations to come.



Russlynn Ali
Chief Executive Officer, XQ Institute


Build Momentum for High School Transformation