21 Nov 2023
by Frank Zaccari

Demographics & Technology Challenges for Business & Education Leaders

Discussing the changing demographics and technology challenges facing educators and businesses.

I recently interviewed Dr. Rebekah McCloud, the Executive Director of the TRIO Center at the University of Central Florida and Dr. Edward Hess, Professor of Business Administration, Batten Fellow and Batten Executive-in-Residence at the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia.

The interview with Dr. Hess is attached. My conversation with Dr. McCloud will be included in a later article.

In each case, we discussed the changing demographics and technology challenges facing educators and businesses. One thing that became clear to me, is educators and businesses can no longer operate in “silos.” Both entities must work together so the incoming students and workforce has the technical and social skills for success.

The world is changing at hyper-speed and we must develop hyper-learning to keep up. The days of power or leadership in education and business based on content (I know more than you therefore I am better/smarter/more important/make more than you are over). There is simply too much data to know everything.


The demographics of the United States is changing. “In 2014 for the first time, the majority of children entering kindergarten are what we define as minorities. These children are now about to enter college. Many are will be 1st generation college students. English may not be their first language.” This means is a few short years they will be entering the work force. This trend in unlikely to change. So, what does this mean?

Educators and businesses leaders must develop programs so students and future employees are able to connect. What are the underlying values of the various cultures? How do they think and what influences their thoughts? What are some of the inherent bias and fears? Where is there common ground? How do we build a community of trust, respect and collaboration while still achieving business and education goals?

One of the fears I discussed with Dr. McCloud is when situations change human nature is to worry what is being taken away.  Am I losing my place at the table?  Dr. McCloud response was, “There will be a sharing and understanding that must occur. Sharing is not weakness. Sharing does not mean something is being taken from any group or that you are losing your place at the table. Sharing means building a bigger table.”

There is more that unites us than divides us.

Despite the negative rhetoric, there is far more that unites us than divide us. Building a bigger table encourages trust, respect, and cooperation. Building a wall or staying in a silo leads to distrust, fear, and isolation.

Whether it is in school or the workplace people want to feel they are seen, heard and they matter. Leaders must learn how to adjust. Managers and leader who succeed will become enablers and facilitators.


Technology is completely transforming how we live, how we work and who will work. Jobs that are repeatable and predictable with be taken over by technology. The current fear that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will take over the world works in science fiction movies. AI is a tool if used correctly will make education and business more efficient. However, it is how people use AI that will make education and business more effective.

This shift is big – bigger than the Industrial Revolution because it requires that we humans continuously transform cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally. A “New Way of Being” based upon “Inner Peace” and “Otherness” is required as well as a “New Way of Working,” which humanizes the workplace in ways that enable the highest levels of human performance. These are the words of Professor Edward Hess.

If you are leading a project team, a department, a school, a district, a company, how you change, how you learn is critical for long-term success.

Why is this necessary? Consider this, 65% of pre-school children today will work in a job or career that doesn’t currently exist. Can we train student and business leaders on something that doesn’t exist? The answer is yes. While we may not know the job title or requirements, schools and businesses have the ability to teach the skills needed to succeed in the future. What skills? Leadership (one does not require a title to be a leader in some capacity), social/cultural awareness, emotional intelligence, collaboration and critical thinking.  These are skills that must be taught from the earliest days in school, and re-enforced in business because these skills are required regardless of industry or profession.

Listen to my interview with Dr. Edward Hess for additional details about:

  • Five Principles of “The New Smart.”
  • Humanizing the workplace
  • Changing managers to enablers and facilitators
  • Changing leaders to inspire people by promoting the value of the business and its value to society.