We can all enjoy jobs for life if we understand the need for reinvention and lifelong learning – at an individual and organisational level, writes City & Guilds Group’s Kirstie Donnelly.
The concept of a linear, three-stage life, where you move from education into a job that then takes you through to retirement, is a thing of the past. Acquiring new skills once in your lifetime, to see you through an entire career, is just not realistic anymore.
We shouldn’t be scared of this. We can all enjoy jobs for life if we accept that there will be times where we need to learn new skills and move into different occupations or industry sectors.
To thrive, we must become comfortable with reinvention. The linear career path usually meant people grew evermore proficient in their chosen career, becoming experts in a particular area. With people set to experience several different careers across the course of their lives, it matters less how well you can perform a particular task than how open you are to change and how receptive to learning. Everyone should cultivate a growth mindset to enjoy a long and rewarding working life.
Younger generations recognise this, according to a ManpowerGroup survey of 19,000 millennials around the globe, which found that 93% see learning and skills as a crucial part of their careers and are willing to invest their own time and money in acquiring them.
It’s up to leaders to create a culture of continuous learning within their organisations. Modelling upskilling and reskilling from the top will empower employees to reinvent themselves, signalling that it’s ok to
learn new skills at any age or level.
It’s also important for business leaders to understand the skills they do have in their workplace. We’re currently experiencing poor levels of productivity in the UK and one of the reasons is skills underutilisation.
We encourage our employer partners to understand the skills needed now and in the future and then to map these against the current workforce. Once you understand the full picture, it’s a case of looking at who has these transferable skills and can help develop others, whether that’s a millennial teaching a CEO how to code, or a supervisor sharing insights into customer service with newer team members.
Recognise that learning never stops. According to management consultants McKinsey, rapid advances in digitisation, automation and artificial intelligence will have a profound effect on the global workforce: 14% of us will need to switch jobs, and the skills companies require will change constantly.
I don’t subscribe to the fearful view that robots will take all our jobs, but there are clear examples, across sectors, of the removal of roles that can be automated easily, so the onus is on us to build our human skills. Forward-thinking employers recognise their responsibility to retrain and reskill their employees, even if that will be for jobs at different companies. Digital credentials are a great way of providing people with recognition of acquired skills that they can take with them as they move careers. For example, Hilton Hotels has credentialled its global work placement programme, recognising that, although there may not be jobs at the end for everyone, the digital credential provides a recognised stamp of approval for skills learned.
In the UK, the Apprenticeship Levy is also an opportunity for companies looking to reshape careers and provide opportunities for people at any stage of their career; for example, Marstons offers apprenticeships to older workers who still have lots to offer and want to learn new skills.
Organisations that stand still will get nowhere. No industry is immune to the profound impact of technology. For example, in construction – often viewed as a traditional trade industry – the UK government mandates use of building information modelling (digitally generated 3D models of buildings) in all new contracts, while drones, robotics and automated vehicles are commonplace.
In education and training, we’re seeing the rise of digital credentialling as an addition to traditional qualifications, which is why we invested in Digitalme. We know we must look to the future and recognise the need for people to be able to share the skills they have acquired through formal and non-formal learning in a digital way.
The gig economy has also shifted the way we work. I hope that, in future, we will have worked out a fairer system so that flexible, self-employed workers can benefit from the training and progression others enjoy. Remote working is a trend I see continuing as it becomes easier to create an office wherever you are and communications technology continues to improve.
To read our summary of Kirstie's panel discussion click here. You can watch the session in full here.