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A working robot pulls a cart while walking in a facility.
Courtesy of Pond5
A working robot pulls a cart while walking in a facility.

Wednesdays Sept. 1 - 15, 2021 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV + Thursdays, Sept. 2 - 16 at 8 p.m. & Sundays, Sept. 5 -19 on KPBS 2/ On Demand

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, resulting in the multi-platform series, FUTURE OF WORK.

Filmmaker Quote

“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 series 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.

In the first episode, 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.



Episode 1: “The New Industrial Revolution”: Wed. Sept 1 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV + Thurs. Sept. 2 at 8 p.m. & Sun. Sept. 5 at 10 p.m. on KPBS 2

Illuminates disruptions to the world of work – AI, robotics, globalization, labor practices. The pandemic is a new driver of change, with unemployment flipping from lowest in 50 years to highest in a century.

Episode 2: “Futureproof”: Wed., Sept. 8 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV + Thurs. Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. & Sun. Sept. 12 at 10 p.m. on KPBS 2

How can we predict job growth, training needs and the role of education to prepare for the work of the future? What are the challenges and consequences of the pandemic and America's racial and economic disparities?

Episode 3: “Changing Work, Changing Workers”: Wed. Sept. 15 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV + Thurs. Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. & Sun. Sept. 19 at 10 p.m. on KPBS 2

Do businesses need offices? Is a 9-5 workday valid? Does the nation need a drastic rethinking of the social safety nets? Does America face a "post-work" era, or increased inequities in how we make our livings?

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 7. The 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.

Join The Conversation:

“What is the future of work that you’re hoping for?” We'd love to hear how your field has been affected by the changing landscape of work, and what you're doing to stay relevant? Do you have a path to security, and how does your future of work differ from the here and now?

We encourage you to answer through textual commentary, a still image, a short-form video on social media — however you feel most comfortable and on whatever platform you are most comfortable — using the hashtag #FutureOfWorkPBS


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.