A Window Into The Future Of Work

Upwork, the globe’s largest remote talent platform, posts three million jobs and transacts $1 billion of work each year. It recently released Freelance Forward 2020: The U.S. Independent Workforce Reportbased on insights from 6,000 U.S. workers about the impact of COVID-19. It shows that 12% of the workforce started freelancing during the pandemic for the first time.

All up, 59 million people are freelancing – that’s more than a third of our total workforce. Some 36% of them freelance full time, which is eight percent up on last year. For those who left a job to freelance, only a quarter are making less income than previously. Half of freelancers are highly skilled, offering services such as in computer programming, marketing, IT and business consulting, etc. And it’s not just Millennials who freelance. Half of Gen Z, 44% of Millennials, 30% of Gen X, and 26% of Boomers choose freelancing. 

Freelance gigs obtained through global online job platforms often get a bad rap. Some say such platforms recall disadvantaged workers in developing countries eking out a paltry living as a virtual assistant, software developer, or social media content writer, for example. Others say a job through this type of platform is simply a race to the bottom when it comes to potential earnings. But this isn’t always the case – global online job platforms have proven to be useful, as many people use such platforms to post tasks, projects, and even ongoing part-time or permanent roles. The key for freelancers is learning how to navigate these sites and present themselves attractively to those hiring, while the key for employers and recruiter is to comb through a multitude of candidates and effectively identify qualified freelancers with the exact skills they are looking for.

One entrepreneur looking to hire skills told me how she found it particularly helpful when pivoting and scaling up her business. There is no question, the ability to tap into a global talent pool at will, plus name your price and deadline, is desirable to many.

Some platforms, such as Upwork, claim it takes an average of three days to hire because the employer has a job, knows what they need, and are ready to hire now. (There are alternatives such as this site lists, too). 

If you’re a professional looking for a side hustle through to ongoing work and everything in between, your profile on an online jobs platform may well be a standout. That’s if they accept your application – it can be competitive, particularly in some categories, so the more niched you are, the better. These are the skills that earn an average of $200 or more per hour on Upwork: legal entity structure, blackline, bitcoin, international accounting standards, and software licensing.

As a little-known Indian entrepreneur, Venkatesh Rao writes on his blog, The Art of Gig; there’s an assumption out there that people shouldn’t have to work

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Global soils underpin life but future looks ‘bleak’, warns UN report

Global soils are the source of all life on land but their future looks “bleak” without action to halt degradation, according to the authors of a UN report.

a truck traveling down a dirt road: Photograph: Zsolt Czeglédi/EPA

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Zsolt Czeglédi/EPA

A quarter of all the animal species on Earth live beneath our feet and provide the nutrients for all food. Soils also store as much carbon as all plants above ground and are therefore critical in tackling the climate emergency. But there also are major gaps in knowledge, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) report, which is the first on the global state of biodiversity in soils.

The report was compiled by 300 scientists, who describe the worsening state of soils as at least as important as the climate crisis and destruction of the natural world above ground. Crucially, it takes thousands of years for soils to form, meaning urgent protection and restoration of the soils that remain is needed.

The scientists describe soils as like the skin of the living world, vital but thin and fragile, and easily damaged by intensive farming, forest destruction, pollution and global heating.

“Soil organisms play a crucial role in our everyday life by working to sustain life on Earth,” said Ronald Vargas, of the FAO and the secretary of the Global Soil Partnership.

Prof Richard Bardgett, of the University of Manchester, who was a lead author of the report, said: “There is a vast reservoir of biodiversity living in the soil that is out of sight and is generally out of mind. But few things matter more to humans because we rely on the soil to produce food. There’s now pretty strong evidence that a large proportion of the Earth’s surface has been degraded as a result of human activities.”

a truck driving down a dirt road: Scientists describe soils as like the skin of the living world, vital but thin and fragile, and easily damaged by intensive farming, forest destruction, and pollution.

© Photograph: Zsolt Czeglédi/EPA
Scientists describe soils as like the skin of the living world, vital but thin and fragile, and easily damaged by intensive farming, forest destruction, and pollution.

Related: UK is 30-40 years away from ‘eradication of soil fertility’, warns Gove

Since the Industrial Revolution, about 135bn tonnes of soil has been lost from farmland, according to Prof Rattan Lal, the 2020 winner of the World Food prize.

Video: Zoo welcomes 2 red pandas (ABC News)

Zoo welcomes 2 red pandas



People should be worried, said Bardgett. “If things carry on as they are, the outlook is bleak, unquestionably. But I think it’s not too late to introduce measures now.”

Prof Nico Eisenhauer, of Leipzig University, another lead author of the report, said: “It is a major issue that we are dependent on this thin layer that is sometimes just a couple of centimetres, sometimes several metres, but a very vulnerable, living skin.”

Related: The world needs topsoil to grow 95% of its food – but it’s rapidly disappearing

Soils simultaneously produce food, store carbon and purify water, he said, so they are “at least as important” as the climate and above-ground biodiversity crises. “If you’re

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Opinion | How Betsy DeVos Has Influenced Education Policy’s Future

Measured solely by policy accomplishments, Betsy DeVos, one of Donald Trump’s longest-serving cabinet officials, was a flop in her four years as secretary of education.

Early on, her efforts to move a federal voucher program through a Republican-controlled Congress more concerned with taxes and deregulation repeatedly fell short. This year, she was forced to abandon a directive ordering states to redirect coronavirus funds to private schools after three federal judges ruled against her.

And significant pieces of Obama-era civil rights guidance that she rescinded — moves meant to protect transgender students, for instance, or address racially disproportionate school discipline — will be immediately restored by the incoming Biden administration.

Though Ms. DeVos has been mostly stymied, both by Trumpism’s policy indifference and progressive opposition, her legacy will still be far-reaching and long-lasting. This is not a result of what she made, but of what she broke: a bipartisan federal consensus around testing and charters that extended from the George H.W. Bush administration through the end of the Obama era.

For progressives, this shift hasn’t necessarily been bad news. In response to Ms. DeVos’s polarizing influence, moderate Democrats including President-elect Joe Biden recommitted to teachers unions and adopted more skeptical positions on school choice that were out of the question just a few years ago. Mr. Biden has pledged to exclude for-profit charter schools from federal funding, and he has proposed making larger investments in public education by using Title I statutes to double federal support for schools serving low-income students.

Yet Ms. DeVos has also elevated the education policy agenda of the far right, giving voice and legitimacy to a campaign to fundamentally dismantle public education. That campaign, pursued for the past few decades only in deep-red states, and often perceived as belonging to the libertarian fringe, has become the de facto agenda of the Republican Party.

So, while it is true that the Biden administration will swiftly reverse President Trump’s executive orders and administrative guidance from the Department of Education, Mr. Biden’s education secretary will still have to contend with extreme ideas that have suddenly entered the mainstream.

More than three decades ago, conventional Republicans and centrist Democrats signed on to an unwritten treaty. Conservatives agreed to mute their push for private school vouchers, their preference for religious schools and their desire to slash spending on public school systems. In return, Democrats effectively gave up the push for school integration and embraced policies that reined in teachers unions.

Together, led by federal policy elites, Republicans and Democrats espoused the logic of markets in the public sphere, expanding school choice through publicly funded charter schools. Competition, both sides agreed, would strengthen schools. And the introduction of charters, this contingent believed, would empower parents as consumers by even further untethering school enrollment from family residence.

The bipartisan consensus also elevated the role of student tests in evaluating schools. The first President Bush ushered in curricular standards in 1989 when he gathered the nation’s governors, including Bill Clinton of Arkansas, for a

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Nick Wright: Wentz playing the worst of his career at 27 makes an ominous sign for his future | FIRST THINGS FIRST






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California unveiled a blueprint for the future of early education. Critics say it’s built on shaky ground

After months of delays and pandemic upheaval, California officials on Tuesday released the long-awaited Master Plan for Early Learning and Care, a 113-page blueprint to remodel the state’s Byzantine child-care system and dramatically expand public preschool.

a little girl sitting at a table: Consuelo Garcia sanitizes toys at the Children of the Rainbow child-care center in San Diego. (John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

© Provided by The LA Times
Consuelo Garcia sanitizes toys at the Children of the Rainbow child-care center in San Diego. (John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

“The Master Plan shows how one state can achieve goals that are soon to become national ones,” the authors noted. “California can use the Master Plan to signal its fitness as an early partner with the incoming Biden administration,” which advocates early-education reform and better access to child care.

But critics say the forward-looking document does little to shore up the existing infrastructure, even as it crumbles underfoot. Unlike K-12 schools, preschools and day-care centers have been allowed to operate throughout the pandemic. Yet since March, almost 400 child-care centers have closed permanently, and at least 5,700 licensed family child-care homes have gone under, leaving tens of thousands of working parents in the lurch.

“We’re sounding the alarm, because the system is on the verge of collapse,” said Max Arias, chairman of the Child Care Providers Union, which represents thousands of workers. “Who knows how the sector will look when it’s time to start implementing this plan? We need to address this crisis, because if not, there won’t be any child-care providers left.”

Indeed, the pandemic has further destabilized an industry that was already in decline when Gov. Gavin Newsom campaigned on early-education reform in 2018, and when experts began work on the plan last fall. Echoing the Master Plan for Higher Education, the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care was envisioned as a 10-year guidebook for new legislation, investment and reform. Its main goals include uniform standards for early education, better training for child-care workers, easier access to subsidized care for low-income families and universal transitional kindergarten for all California 4-year-olds.

“The goals they lay out are great, but where’s the roadmap for actually getting this done?” asked Ted Lempert, a former state assemblyman who is president of the research and advocacy organization Children Now. “COVID has made this system so fragile and so essential. Now we’re in code red.”

The plan itself acknowledged the crisis, including its impact on working families.

“The COVID-19 crisis has put increased pressure on an already fragile provider ecosystem,” the report said. “Stabilizing and supporting the workforce is critical to the state’s response and recovery process.”

Yet the authors offered few details on how California would help preschools and day-care centers stay open while it sorts out funding for its more ambitious goals. Instead, its most immediate action would be to untangle some of the bureaucracy governing early-childhood care by shifting oversight for virtually all state-subsidized programs from the state’s Department of Education to the Department of Social Services. The plan suggests then streamlining publicly funded programs, simplifying eligibility for low-income families and overhauling reimbursements for providers, which the

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Curtin collision models impact the future of energy

nuclear fusion
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A new Curtin University-created database of electron-molecule reactions is a major step forward in making nuclear fusion power a reality, by allowing researchers to accurately model plasmas containing molecular hydrogen.

The Curtin study, published in the Atomic Data and Nuclear Data Tables journal, is supplying data to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER)—one of the largest scientific projects in the world aimed at developing fusion technology for electricity production on Earth.

Lead researcher, Ph.D. candidate and Forrest Scholar Liam Scarlett from the Theoretical Physics Group in Curtin’s School of Electrical Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences said his calculations and the resulting collision database will play a crucial role in the development of fusion technology.

“Our electron-molecule collision modeling is an exciting step in the global push to develop fusion power—a new, clean electricity source. Fusion is the nuclear reaction which occurs when atoms collide and fuse together, releasing huge amounts of energy. This process is what powers the Sun, and recreating it on Earth requires detailed knowledge of the different types of collisions which take place in the fusion plasma—that’s where my research comes in,” Mr Scarlett said.

“We developed mathematical models and computer codes, and utilized the Perth-based Pawsey Supercomputing Centre to calculate the probabilities of different reactions taking place during collisions with molecules. The molecules we looked at here are those which are formed from atoms of hydrogen and its isotopes, as they play an important role in fusion reactors.

“Until now the available data was incomplete, however our molecular collision modeling has produced an accurate and comprehensive database of more than 60,000 electron-molecule reaction probabilities which, for the first time, has allowed a team in Germany to create an accurate model for molecular hydrogen in the ITER plasma.

“This is significant because their model will be used to predict how the plasma will radiate, leading to a better understanding of the plasma physics, and the development of diagnostic tools which are vital for controlling the fusion reaction.”

The research project was funded by the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research as part of an international research endeavor to harness fusion power as a future energy source.

Research supervisor and co-author Professor Dmitry Fursa, from Curtin’s School of Electrical Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences, said fusion power is attractive due to its virtually unlimited fuel supply (hydrogen) and the lack of long-lived radioactive waste or carbon emissions.

“Fusion is one of the biggest projects in the world right now. You can harness an enormous amount of energy from the reaction that occurs when you take hydrogen atoms and fuse them together,” Professor Fursa said.

“This new and comprehensive electron-molecule collision modeling has provided a solid basis for other researchers to continue their work into developing an efficient reactor to re-create the Sun’s fusion process here on Earth.”

Isotope movement holds key to the power of fusion reactions

More information:
Liam H. Scarlett et al, Complete collision data set for electrons scattering on
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Imagining the Future Anew at Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, a Key Participant in UNESCO’s Futures Literacy Summit

To foster the knowledge, development, and reach of futures studies, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (PMU) is participating in the High-Level Futures Literacy Summit, held by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) from 8 to 12 December 2020.

Dr. Issa Al Ansari, President of PMU, will first deliver an opening speech on the university’s involvement in the enrichment of future studies. The university will further present and participate in workshops, announce research grants, and offer a virtual exhibition.

“The purpose of the UNESCO 2020 Summit is to amplify the role of futures studies in influencing people’s perceptions and actions related to the present and the future as well, as to empower all people, to use future thinking efficiently and effectively in order to create changes that benefit societies,” said Dr. Ansari, President of PMU. “Futures studies are a very important element of the educational mission of PMU and we hope to encourage this kind of forward-looking thinking and rethinking around the world.”

The university has accordingly established the Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd Center for Futuristic Studies (PMFCFS), a multidisciplinary institute. On its campus in Al-Khobar, and for the whole of the Middle East and North Africa region, the institute has opened a chapter of the World Futures Studies Federation (WFSF), a global non-governmental organization that is a consultative partner with UNESCO and the UN and with members in over 60 countries. The university has also launched an academic course, “Introduction to Future Studies,” PMU and UNESCO are also currently developing a Master’s program in Futures Studies, to be launched in 2023, and PMU is seeking to establish a UNESCO Chair in Futures Literacy entitled “Transitional and Inter-Generational Anticipation.”

“At home and abroad, futures thinking — through futures literacy translating into futures studies — can provide vital new perspectives on how to imaginatively solve the world’s most pressing problems and looming challenges, helping to ensure prosperity for the entirety of humanity,” said Dr. Ansari. 

Link for the Registration :- https://events.unesco.org/event?id=255234025&lang=1033

Photo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/1343429/PMU_Futures_Studies.jpg  
Logo – https://mma.prnewswire.com/media/1281076/PMU_Logo.jpg

Ankit S Bhosale,
(+966 13) 849 9346
[email protected]

SOURCE pmu.edu.sa (Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University)

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Norway Preserves ‘The Scream’ for Future Generations by Burying Digital Copy in Arctic Coal Mine | Smart News

Regardless of what disasters afflict the world over the next 1,000 years, Edvard Munch’s iconic depiction of human suffering, The Scream, should be around to greet whoever’s left. As the Local reports, Norway’s National Museum has placed a digital version of Munch’s masterpiece, along with copies of around 400,000 other objects, in an Arctic coal mine for (very) long-term safekeeping.

Technology company Piql created the Arctic World Archive (AWA) in 2017 as “a safe repository for world memory” designed to last more than a millennium, according to the project’s website. The digital trove features the entirety of the museum’s collections, as well as offerings from other cultural organizations around the world.

“At the National Museum we have works from antiquity until today,” says director Karin Hindsbo in a statement translated by the Local. “We work with the same perspective on the future. The collection is not only ours, but also belongs to the generations after us. By storing a copy of the entire collection in the Arctic World Archive, we are making sure the art will be safe for many centuries.”

Per the Art Newspaper’s Christian House, staff took photographs of the museum’s paintings, works of architecture and other artifacts, then transferred these images to specialized analog film. The medium is designed to keep works readable even as technologies change.

“The only thing you need to read the film is light,” Rolf Yngve Uggen, the museum’s director of collections management, tells the Art Newspaper.

In addition to The Scream, other works preserved in the archive include The Baldishol, a medieval Norwegian tapestry representing part of a calendar, and Harald Sohlberg’s 1914 painting Winter Night in the Mountains. Also featured is a ball dress that belonged to Queen Maud, who ascended to the throne with her husband, Haakon VII, in 1905.

AWA vault
The AWA vault is buried deep in an old mine.

(Arctic World Archive)

The dry, cold and low-oxygen air in the archive helps preserve the plastic film rolls on which the digital images are stored. Storing the images offline, in a remote location, also protects them against cyber attacks.

“It’s like being on another planet,” Uggen tells the Art Newspaper. “It’s like the final frontier.”

Located on the island of Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago, east of Greenland, the archive now contains digital replicas of treasures from more than 15 countries. Among the organizations storing copies of artifacts in the AWA are the National Archives of Mexico, the Vatican Library, the European Space Agency and Brazilian multimedia archive the Museum of the Person. A number of corporations have also stored records in the digital repository.

The archive’s designers took into account potential threats from wars and natural disasters, as well as technological and societal changes. According to the AWA’s website, the “futureproof and technology independent” archiving technique is designed to withstand strong electromagnetic energy.

A similar safekeeping venture—the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which opened in 2008 to store samples of the world’s

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University of Colorado adapting to COVID, future but needs state’s financial support

As many of us struggle with pandemic fatigue, I am reminded of running the mile as a member of the Pequot Lakes High School track team in Minnesota. As I completed the third of four laps, I debated whether to lay down on the ground and writhe in pain or press on. Suddenly I got a second wind. I was filled with renewed energy and nearly sprinted the last lap, setting the school record. We all need a second wind to emerge from this pandemic and prepare for what lies ahead.

It is wonderful to see vaccines advancing, including one developed by Moderna, for which the CU Anschutz Medical Campus hosted clinical trials. Though the end may be in sight, much effort will be required before it arrives.

We at CU have learned and adapted this year as we delivered on our missions to teach and discover while keeping our communities safe. We will continue to collaborate closely with public health professionals as we close out our fall semester and look toward spring. Beyond the urgent matters of the moment, we must recognize the coronavirus has not changed the future, only accelerated its arrival. None of us has the luxury of waiting for COVID to be fully under control before we prepare for tomorrow.

I draw other lessons from my time on the Pequot Lakes track team. Our strongest race was a mile relay, where four runners ran 440 yards each. Efficient hand-offs were as important to winning as the pace of individual runners, and we practiced them over and over. Like our relay team, our success as a university and state hinges on close teamwork.

The pandemic has quickened the trend toward digitization to hyper-speed. Case in point: the time we spend in video meetings these days. Digitization will turn every industry upside down, requiring transformation for many organizations. As automation accelerates, the success of individuals and our state’s economy will require more college graduates, along with skills
transformation for those in the workforce. Universities and companies are increasingly offering supplementary credentials to meet the needs for foundational career skills and lifelong learning.

Yet for the past decade, total attendance nationwide at two- or four-year colleges has declined, with on-campus enrollment declining at a steeper pace while online enrollment has grown, even more so during the pandemic.

Quality online instruction costs as much to deliver – and often more – as on-campus instruction. Only when the scale of online offerings increases do they hold the promise to reduce the cost of higher education. This requires innovation, adaptability and extra effort by faculty, as well as significant institutional investments. Robust state support is crucial to helping us provide the talent Colorado needs to prosper.

We must also recognize our demographic evolution into a majority-minority state and nation. Success demands we get better at attracting, retaining and graduating students from less-represented backgrounds. Last year, we hired the CU system’s first chief diversity officer and made Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access one

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Maine Voices: Education indicators provide path for future policy priorities

As policymakers begin to plan for the upcoming 130th legislative session, Educate Maine believes that their work needs to be grounded in the needs of our communities, the health and well-being of our state’s economy, and an understanding of our students’ educational barriers and challenges.

To help policymakers and the public better understand these dynamics, Educate Maine recently released the newest edition of our annual Education Indicators for Maine report. This annual report measures access, participation and attainment through the educational pipeline from early childhood through postsecondary education, based on 2019 data (thus, before the pandemic).

A quick overview of what the data tell us:

• Maine has made progress at the beginning and the end of the educational pipeline: in particular, expanding full-day kindergarten (98 percent of districts offer full-day kindergarten) and increasing the number of Mainers holding postsecondary degrees or credentials of value (51 percent).

• At the same time, pre-kindergarten continues to grow across Maine, with 77 percent of school districts offering some pre-K programming, serving 51 percent of eligible 4-year-olds. Only 9 percent of pre-K programs are full-day, five-day-a-week programs.

• Fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores are showing progress. Maine fourth-graders who met or exceeded state expectations improved from 52 percent to 56 percent. Math scores have been steady, yet are far from where they need to be for our future workers to compete in the global economy. Only 41 percent of fourth-graders and 36 percent of eighth-graders met or exceeded state expectations in math.

• At the same time, performance in reading and math have declined at the high school level. Eleventh-graders who met or exceeded state reading expectations dropped from 59 percent to 56 percent, while math skills dropped from 35 percent to 33 percent.

• Achievement gaps are significant across grades and subjects for economically disadvantaged students, who comprised 42 percent of Maine’s student population in 2019. Gaps are also significant for students when looking at race and ethnicity.

These education indicators are of great interest to me as one of the MaineSpark leadership partners. We are dedicated to helping Maine achieve our education attainment goal that 60 percent of Maine adults earn a credential of value by 2025. Those credentials will position them and their families for success in the current and future economies. The indicators I just described lay out a road map for how we achieve this goal.

First, we need to start early with robust high-quality early education. Healthy development from birth to age 5 is vitally important. What happens or doesn’t happen during these early years helps build the social, emotional and cognitive foundations and developmental skills children need to start school ready to succeed.

Research has consistently highlighted how early education benefits kids throughout their schooling and in adulthood. For example, data show that children who participate in high-quality early learning programs are 44 percent more likely to graduate from high school and 74 percent more likely to hold a skilled job compared to children who do

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