Chaos will be conventional for careers

Written by
Naeema Pasha
Henley Business School

Published
13 Aug 2018

13 Aug 2018 • by Naeema Pasha

The world of career coaching delivery should have changed alongside the world of careers, but it hasn’t.

This is in part because when we want careers support, we like it to be direct and offer us clarity. For example, we might say to a career coach “I need to know what my next job is, what I need to do to be successful, and what my earning potential will be”. This is normal as our human brain seeks certainty,  as certainty means safety. Safety, as identified in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, is one of the basic human needs after food and water. In response, people working in careers and HR will often offer a transactional and direct response to meet that need, and, up until now, it has been a “good enough” way of functioning.

Change is needed

Careers and work is now facing uncertainty, disruption and chaos. Career coaches would not be far off the mark if they responded to professionals with, “I am not sure if your job area will have disappeared in a few years or what skillset is needed for jobs that don’t exist yet”.

The impact of AI, machine learning and robots is predicted to cause disruption to many sectors and occupations, a Deloitte report suggests that 35% of UK jobs in 2035 will be automated. The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, in a CBI speech also suggested that the current slowing of productivity in the UK is partly because companies are not adopting new technologies fast enough and they need to do this soon.

For senior leaders, career and HR professionals, skills development is something that will need to be addressed urgently, as it appears that our traditional learning and development (L&D) programmes have not stopped the productivity slow-down or been adapted enough to the future of work.

Currently, L&D programmes only reach so far and do not cover a person’s entire career management strategy.  Career development strategies need to be broadened to take into account the uncertainty ahead for workers if we want them to maintain a useful skillset and not be thrown onto a robot scrap heap, and this should start from the bottom, in schools, colleges and universities and be continued in workplaces.

A new framework

At Henley Business School, our research shows that to manage future careers effectively, the key is for business leaders and educational institutions to encourage the development of resilience, self-reliance and re-invention qualities in staff and students. These are the essential tools for people to be able to achieve career management more successfully, especially when job roles, functions and careers are in a disrupted state.

The World of Work (WOW) careers framework we have developed for our students has components identified by economists that are needed for the future of work:

  • Technical: data and digital skills
  • Cognitive: analytical skills
  • Social: relationship building & networks
  • We have also added Self: confidence, knowledge, self-reliance and career leadership

Have fun in chaotic times

When things are serious, our solution is to have fun!

This is not meant to sound insensitive; we need to develop a transformational approach for workers and students. However, for transformation to happen, people need to engage and we engage better when it feels good and fun.

Our WOW framework incorporates creative and exciting methods of learning, e.g. virtual reality, gamification, comedy training for confidence building, cartooning for memory recall, and YouTube skills for personal branding.

We have developed a model that builds on the work of Chaos Career Theory and encompasses and embraces design thinking/user experience when creating learning programmes, considering the learner’s experience and perspective of what they want to achieve.  

Chaos career learning is fit for the future

Our WOW initiative supports students and workers to embrace chaos.

We offer in-depth career coaching to address mental blocks and self-sabotage that we, as humans, often subconsciously put in place to block our success, an experiential student development programme and tools using gamification to build a sense of belonging (back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). We also run a WOW conference to engage businesses and universities and develop a community of thinking and sharing in careers and the future of work.

We have seen success in our careers framework, with 99% of attendees of a recent experiential programme saying that they were more likely to take action on their career as a result of the ‘fun’ programme; 69% also stated an increase in confidence. In general, we have noted positive outcomes in ranking league tables in terms of graduate employment and the roles our students go into after finishing their study.

This demonstrates that taking action now to foster change and skills development will provide a stronger and more flexible workforce for the future. Businesses and educational institutions need to nurture employees and future generations of workers and support them in adapting and enhancing their skills if they are to succeed in the future.

Henley Business School