Michael Klowden on accelerated change in the way we look at work

Innovators share ideas with WorkingNation Overheard at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2021

Workforce development has always been an important issue, particularly over the last 10 years, says Michael Klowden, CEO of the Milken Institute. He notes that COVID-19 has brought the need for changes in workforce development to the forefront.

WorkingNation sat down with Klowden at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2021 in Beverly Hills as part of our #WorkingNationOverheard interview series. With Charting a New Course as the guiding theme, thought leaders and innovators shared ideas about the changing economy, worker development, education, tech, philanthropy, and more.

Klowden says the past 20 months have resulted in changes in how people view their own place in the workforce. He notes there are people at the end of their careers asking whether they want to go back to work, while some people in the early part of their careers are asking whether they want to spend their lives doing what they are doing now.

“Some people would say this is just a temporary blip. Others say this is a change which is going to be generational and impact a large number of people. I’m in the camp that feels that these are accelerating trends, that this is very real and we’re not going back to where we were.”

Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been a focus of the Milken Institute for at least 20 years, says Klowden. “We’ve been involved in these issues relating to access to capital for minorities, smaller businesses, and inner-city communities. We’ve attempted over the years to do more in trying to encourage the financial sector participation of minority managers and others, giving them access to the same opportunities.”

He continues, “One of the things that pushes businesses in this direction is that they recognize that for their colleagues, their employees, this is a very important issue, especially for younger ones. They’re recognizing that they have to pay attention to this beyond just giving lip service. The greater opportunities have to be there.”

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