White Outlines Future of Workforce, How E. J. Ourso College Will Meet Needs

Dean Richard White Jr.

Dean Richard White Jr.

July 27, 2016

BATON ROUGE – By the end of the LSU Department of Accounting’s 13th annual Fraud & Forensic Accounting Conference this week, those in the Crowne Plaza Hotel’s packed ballroom had gained two days worth of insight from leaders in the field.

But it may be the information shared at the start of the conference that has the longest lasting impact.

E. J. Ourso College of Business Dean Richard White Jr. delivered the welcome address at the event and gave his thoughts on the future of the workforce, as well as the place the E. J. Ourso College and its students will occupy within it.

“I look upon my job as dean as looking into the future, not mine but the near 1,000 students we graduate each year,” White said. “The workforce 10 to 20 years from now … we won’t recognize it. The ladder of success will not only be steeper because of increased competition, but it will be narrower because of fewer jobs. Automation, artificial intelligence, offshoring, mergers and acquisitions, all of these will affect the job market and limit jobs.

“One major study predicts that 47 percent of the existing job categories are in jeopardy of being exterminated. Any job that is predictable and routine is vulnerable. For our students to survive in this new environment, it will take several new elements.”

First, White said E. J. Ourso College students will have to learn to adapt to uncertainty and chaos. Jobs that deal with those two ingredients will be the ones that thrive in the workforce of tomorrow.

Second, students will have to be willing to be more mobile – both in terms of geography and career. Indeed, a study cited by Forbes.com titled “Multiple Generations @ Work” revealed that 91 percent of millennials – those born between 1977 and 1997 – expect to stay in a job less than three years, resulting in 15-20 jobs over the course of their career.

“That sounds scary,” White said, “but it’s really not if a lot of those are promotions. Even so, it shows you how dynamic and chaotic the business world will be.”

Third, graduates must specialize more. White said the six traditional business degrees are not enough and students need to specialize in things like sales, real estate, energy and internal auditing.

In fact, the E. J. Ourso College plans to launch a bachelor’s in entrepreneurship in 2017. This degree would be earned in conjunction with a bachelor’s in any other discipline at the university and offer students the chance to learn practical business knowledge in addition to their chosen major.

“Businesses and large corporations are canceling their training programs,” White stated. “One, employees are not staying long enough for them to get their return on investment and two, organizations are going through mergers and acquisitions. So industry is leaning now upon business colleges to give the specified degrees that (future employees) need.”

The final element, according to White, is people skills. Ironically, in today’s technology-driven world, such skills have become more important in dealing with clients, selling one’s product, selling one’s self and interacting with interdisciplinary groups.

“My goal is not for our students to graduate or find a job,” White said, “but to find the right job.”

To that end, White announced that he is creating a student success center that will increase internships and employment opportunities. The new center will work closely with the LSU Olinde Career Center and business students will have access to a career coach who will hold office hours at the E. J. Ourso College.

About the E. J. Ourso College of Business
Since its establishment in 1928, the E. J. Ourso College of Business has continuously improved and expanded its offerings for students and alumni. Additionally, the college has made it a priority to provide its faculty with the resources it needs to further research in every aspect of the business world and to produce industry leaders for a global work environment. For more news and information about the E. J. Ourso College, visit our home page.

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Angela McBride
LSU E. J. Ourso College of Business