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Learn More About Michelle R. Weise

A quickly changing workforce made up of adults living and working longer and young people seeking secure jobs is prompting employers and learning providers to rethink their hiring and training models. At the center of these developments is Dr. Michelle Weise, founder of Rise and Design and a leading expert on learning, longevity and the future of work.

Previously the Vice Chancellor of Strategy and Innovation at National University System and an entrepreneur-in-residence and senior advisor at Imaginable Futures, Weise’s work focuses on the deep structural changes and restorative education and workforce solutions we need to support, specifically for our Black and Brown communities. Through research, keynotes and advisory roles, she helps businesses, educational institutions and policy makers prepare for a new generation of workers.

Weise – who co-authored the book “Hire Education: Mastery, Modularity and the Workforce Revolution” (2014) with the late Clayton Christensen – has advised multiple commissions including Harvard University’s Task Force on Skills and Employability, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s Commission on Lifelong Learning and Digital Innovation, and the Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education.

To help employers and employees better prepare for the future of work, Weise has been analyzing three distinct areas that affect workforce longevity and economic growth: education systems, employer hiring models, and employee skill sets. Her ongoing research shows that organizations willing to invest in retooling their existing talent pipeline reap significant returns. Part of the process would involve letting go of degree requirements and instead leveraging the language of skills so a wider array of underrepresented workers and mature adults can be part of a more inclusive workforce that also serves the bottom line.

“In our work, we’ve seen examples where an employee with skills that could have been easily retooled for another role within a company was laid off because the management team didn’t have a strong enough grasp of the capabilities and hidden skills of their workforce,” says Weise. “This is costly and doesn’t serve the employer or the employee.”

According to Weise, who was named to the Thinkers50 Radar Class of 2021 and was shortlisted for the Talent Award, the future of work will demand a new kind of employee who will have to continuously return to learning to keep up with a rapidly evolving economy. This means adopting new frameworks now and “putting some teeth” into the concept of lifelong learning, a decades-old idea that has been good in theory but slow to catch fire. As a featured commentator in this fascinating 2021 PBS documentary on the future of work, she further elaborates.

In addition to benefiting employers and workers, Weise’s new model creates distinct revenue-generating opportunities for learning providers ready to rethink their programs and build precision education pathways to real-world opportunities – versus more generalist programs that may not result in a job after graduation.

“The skills that matter most now and into the future are ‘human’ skills that can’t be performed by machines,” explains Weise. Her research on human + technical skills illuminates the way to help learners and learning providers understand, develop, and translate those skills into the language of the labor market.

A former Fulbright Scholar and senior fellow with the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, Weise’s research starts with a learner-centered approach focused on relieving some of the pain points experienced by new consumers of education and helping them overcome the obstacles they face when trying to advance. With an estimated 40 million people poised to age out of the workforce and younger workers looking for ways to match their skill sets with opportunities, Weise is leading the creation of a new ecosystem that connects learners to more targeted educational experiences that fit the needs of employers.

Weise will outline this new ecosystem model and other forward-thinking solutions in her book “Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs That Don’t Even Exist Yet  (2020). Her presentations give leaders a “sneak peek” into a revolutionary new way of doing business that will appeal to a wide range of stakeholders in a variety of sectors.


Michelle Weise’s voice has been featured in all major education publications, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, EdSurge and Inside Higher Ed, as well as top-tier business outlets such as The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review and Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Weise also serves as a senior advisor to Entangled Solutions.

Before joining Imaginable Futures, Dr. Weise was the chief innovation officer at Strada Education Network’s Institute for the Future of Work. Prior to that, she was chief innovation officer at Southern New Hampshire University and designed and led the Sandbox ColLABorative, an innovation lab and research consultancy. She also served as vice president of academic affairs for Fidelis Education. She has held several instructional positions, serving as a professor at Skidmore College and an instructor at Stanford University. A former Fulbright Scholar, Weise is a graduate of Harvard University, and earned her master’s and doctorate degrees from Stanford University.

Michelle Weise is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Michelle R. Weise was last modified: October 31st, 2022 by Whitney Jennings

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Tapping into the Lifelong Learning Market

For many, the overwhelming data about AI, automation and mass displacement of labor can freeze any impulse to act. But according to Michelle Weise, the future of work is inextricably tied to the present of learning. A new kind of working learner is emerging, one that will have to continuously return to learning to keep up with a rapidly evolving economy. Based on her book, “Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs That Don’t Even Exist Yet (November 2020), Weise offers optimistic solutions to higher education institutions, employers and policymakers while highlighting barriers faced by learners in need of a new training ecosystem. Right now, education providers aren’t effectively tailoring educational experiences for the new consumers of education—lifelong learners—and that’s a significant miss, says Weise. She helps you harness those opportunities, outlining ways to reshape teaching models and offerings to serve job seekers and employers—while generating significant revenue.

Skilling Up for the Future of Work: Are We Robot-ready?

Tomorrow’s workplace will require workers with a hybrid of human skills and tech skills, also referred to as Human+ skills. Michelle Weise offers solutions for upskilling, retooling and outskilling workers, and provides an overview of how those skills will manifest. Weise dispels the fear-mongering myth that AI and automation will replace people. Drawing on her upcoming book – a “Rosetta Stone” manual for future educators and employers – Weise emphasizes how important it is for employers and institutions to move toward a common language of skills.

Onramps to Good Jobs Offer Wider Talent Pools

A large percentage of Americans looking for work are finding themselves in need of new skill sets in order to meet rapidly changing job requirements. A recent report co-authored by Weise and her colleagues focuses on identifying barriers to growth and ways to create on-ramps to jobs so that the needs of both employers and employees can be met. Such programs also offer significant growth opportunities to colleges, universities and Workforce Investment Boards willing to adjust their programs to serve future consumers of education. Weise discusses how brief, targeted education programs can help job seekers readily access “Human+” skills training so they can get better jobs. Such training will also result in more diverse and inclusive talent pools, widening the pipeline for employers while giving workers access to more job options. Weise also highlights the value of “try-before-you-buy” apprenticeship programs which have been shown to result in demonstrable outcomes and proof points.

The New Geography of Skills

Rapid technological changes have been increasingly redefining jobs and the types of skills needed to perform those jobs. As a result, educators are struggling to keep pace and employers are having trouble articulating the skills they need. A recent report, “The New Geography of Skills,” co-authored by Michelle Weise and her colleagues, outlines solutions that will benefit four groups affected by these changes: policy makers, employers, learning providers and learners. In her talks, Weise debunks the myth of a national skills gap and shows how every role in every region can have skills gaps and skills surpluses, but they manifest in hyper-local ways. She discusses ways employers can define skill shapes, identify gaps and build regional talent pools to attract the right kind of talent and remain competitive. She also outlines her vision for a “new learning ecosystem” where employers, educators and policy makers share actionable information to educate and train workers more effectively, which will ultimately benefit their regional economies.

A New Learning Ecosystem

There is a gap between what learning providers are offering and what employers need from present and future employees. According to Michelle Weise, this will require a new learning ecosystem where educators adjust their offerings and training models in order to meet the needs of future employers and employees. Faced with a workforce that is increasingly out of step with their needs, businesses and community leaders, educators and human resource managers can apply Weise’s invaluable frameworks and tools for educating and training workers who can readily adapt to future workplace needs.

Based on her collaborative research with The Clayton Christensen Institute — a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to improving the world through Disruptive Innovation — Weise discusses the importance of considering nonconsumers when developing future business models. While emphasizing how critical it is to start building a new learning ecosystem today, she also discusses the economic upsides to employing and retooling aging and underrepresented workers.

Mind The Skills Gap

January 28, 2016

“Michelle’s presentation was one of the best received of our conference. Her new book “Hire Education; Mastery, Modularization, and the Workforce Revolution is available on the Clayton Christensen website and we gave a copy of it to each participant… Her talk incited much discussion among our consortium members.”

Melissa McGregor, Director of TAACCCT Grant Office William Rainey Harper College

“On behalf of the entire Distance Teaching and Learning Conference staff, thank you [Michelle] for delivering the opening address during this year’s conference. Your presentation was exceptional and truly enhanced conference-goers’ experiences. Your enthusiasm captured everyone’s attention. The room was filled with great energy and curiosity.”

Simone Conceição, PhD., Visiting Professor of Distance Teaching and Learning University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Michelle Weise has a knack for distilling the complexities of education, labor, and policy into an integrated approach to building a more hopeful future of work. Weise skillfully links the individual stories of working-age adults to the underlying patterns of dysfunction in the U.S. labor market. In Long-life Learning, Weise shows that the future of work is here, and that we need to act now to construct a learning-to-earning system that works for everyone.”

Byron Auguste, CEO and Co-Founder, Opportunity@Work

“Michelle makes a brilliant case not just for the necessity of adults investing in learning throughout their lives, but also for the creation of a new system that systematically supports them across their lives as they do so. This book begins to lay out the puzzle pieces of what that new system should look like.”

Michael B. Horn, Author of “Choosing College”

“In ‘Long Life Learning,’ Michelle Weise articulates the critical need for adults to access an ever-evolving menu of learning and workforce skills development to remain relevant in the future economy and a 100-year work life.”

Deborah Quazzo, Managing Partner, GSV Ventures

“A prescient exploration of higher education’s coming shift from ‘all you can eat in one sitting’ to ‘what you need when you need it’ by one of the most creative and respected thinkers in the field.”

Ryan Craig, Author of “A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College”

“Without hand-wringing about the rise of automation, or finger-pointing at our current systems of education and employment, Long Life Learning advances a vision of the future that puts the needs of workers at the center. Recasting us all as ‘working learners,’ Michelle Weise illustrates not just the value of repeated returns to learning, but the critical importance of seamlessly interweaving education and work throughout our careers.”

Van Ton-Quinlivan, CEO, Futuro Health

“Weise brings sky-high projections about the future of work down to earth with forward-looking and actionable steps to advance career-focused learning and training. Her examination of higher education goes beyond the usual calls for change to demonstrate how burgeoning innovations are laying the foundation of a learning ecosystem of the future—flexible enough for all people—to move consistently in and out of learning and work.”

Joseph Fuller, Professor, Harvard Business School; Former CEO, Monitor Group

“By examining economic trends, innovations in education and hiring, and the lived experiences of working learners, Weise reveals the shortcomings of our fragmented education and workforce systems and challenges us to reimagine the future of learning. Weise demonstrates how and why we must all become working learners, and presents a clear, optimistic vision for a new learning ecosystem in which we can all take part.”

Maria Flynn, President and CEO, Jobs for the Future

“‘Long Life Learning’ is a lifeboat for those of us swimming in the sea of confusing—and often contradicting—narratives about the future of learning, working, and living. Throughout, Michelle brings thoughtful and diverse evidence to bear on a host of pressing challenges facing not just schools but all of society and offers a deeply integrative set of insights from her years as a student of disruptive innovation to chart a better way forward—robots and all.”

Brian Fleming, Vice President of Innovation and Strategy, Southern New Hampshire University