Skip to main content

Future of Work

3 Parts Airing Monday, September 27, Tuesday, Sept. 28 and Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 11:00 p.m.

Future of Work

Future of Work Preview

With U.S. unemployment sky-high, a majority of Americans are concerned about the future.

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, a new PBS series explores the accelerated pace of change in the workplace and the potential for long-term impact on workers, employers, educators and communities across our country. Prior to the start of the pandemic, a team of award-winning filmmakers at public media powerhouse GBH had begun exploring the experiences of American workers across industries, generations, geographies and pay levels. The resulting multi-platform series, Future of Work, makes its debut this summer on streaming and broadcast platforms. 

Future of Work raises critical questions and explores compelling diverse individual experiences,” says GBH Executive Producer and series creator Denise DiIanni. “We provide expert perspectives to help us understand what the future holds for the U.S. workforce and why that matters in today’s world.” Is the right to work a human right? Is the future of work about entrenched haves and have-nots? What are the merits of college vs. training programs in preparing for the jobs of tomorrow? How do we protect and preserve employment opportunities that sustain families, communities, and the nation -- fundamental aspects of the American Dream? 

Future of Work explores these and other questions with profiles of millennial, single-parent and other workers, in addition to leading economic, employment, training and technology experts. The three-part broadcast series airs on PBS stations starting September 1st. Meanwhile, viewers can stream the Future of Work digital series on PBS Digital Studios and PBS Voices YouTube Channel throughout the summer.

Future of Work travels to locations across the U.S., from New York City to Kentucky, to Stockton, California and Fargo, North Dakota with many more stops along the way. GBH’s DiIanni notes, “Each episode illuminates what it means to work, chronicling individual stories before and throughout the pandemic, documenting a range of Americans’ experiences.”

In the first episode of the broadcast series, we meet Chris Francis. After losing his job of 30 years in finance and accounting, Francis has become a seasonal worker. Like Fern in this year’s Academy Award®-winning Nomadland, he travels to where he can find work, including at an Amazon return center, navigating a new “vanner” lifestyle. In another episode, we see the impact of advanced technologies on several industries, including health care, as Michael Jobst uses a robotic arm to conduct surgeries. From the operating room to the farm, Sara Lovitz, a fourth-generation farmer, uses an automated tractor to optimize her family’s output, exclaiming “No hands!” as she shows us how the tractor drives itself.

Future of Work Digital Stories

Future of Work kicks off with the launch of a six-part digital series – the first episode was released on July 7The digital series will examine how the current crisis is impacting long-term employment trends for entry-level and early career workers. Through intimate portraits of six Americans making their way in an ever-changing landscape, each episode focuses on one of the key themes from Future of Work — the gig economy, the rise of the precariat, the digital nomad, working to live, the community worker, and new opportunities — and through generations in a family, illustrating its past and present. The digital series is distributed through PBS Digital Studios’ PBS Voices YouTube Channel.

Future of Work Social Media Series

The Future of Work social media series is designed for early career workers and will be produced vertically for distribution on the PBS IGTV channel. The social series is in part a spin-off from the core digital series but with a look to the future; each episode is anchored by a conversation between our early career worker and a young family member who will explore the issues presented by Future of Work in his or her own unique point of view.

Future of Work is produced by GBH Boston, Shining Red Productions, Blue Spark Collaborative and Curious Child Films. Series Creator and Senior Executive in Charge: Denise DiIanni, Co-Executive Producer: Laurie Donnelly. Directors and Writers: Episode 1; Graham Townsley, Episode 2; Llewellyn “Llew” Smith, Episode 3; Laurens Grant. Episode 2 Producer: Kelly Thomson. Funding for Future of Work is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Rockefeller Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, The James Irvine Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and through the support of PBS viewers.