Gone are the days when a university education in your 20s was enough for your entire professional life. Now, companies must get serious about life-long learning
Learning and earning has tended to follow a simple rule: get as educated as you can as early as you can and then reap the rewards. Essentially, get a good degree, get a long-term job, increase your pay packet year on year and retire with some money in the bank. While there are a few exceptions to the rule like Richard Branson and Duncan Bannatyne, statistically if you want to make money you should stay in school.
However, technology has shattered the idea of having a job for life and changed the way we live and work. Picking up skills up to the age of 21 is no longer enough. Learning has to be a lifelong pursuit, otherwise you risk being left in the metaphorical dirt. To reflect this shift, we need to completely rethink the nature of employment to help make learning new skills a fundamental part of work.
The training dilemma
The technological revolution creates a massive problem – we need to learn, constantly. Currently work simply doesn’t provide enough opportunities. Skills are supposed to be picked up in working, but most of us are rather pretty busy. Employers too have become less willing to invest in training their workforces – indeed, according to the CIPD, investment and participation in vocational training has dropped significantly in recent years. Market pressures and an uncertain economy have added another element of risk. The pace of technological change has made it harder to design training courses and understand the value of skills – today’s skills could very well be useless in six months.
We clearly need to rethink the relationship between working and learning. We need training and education in new skills integrated into our careers – simple enough, right? Well in reality, it isn’t. Employers are under pressure for results, employees equally so. We’re increasingly desperate for training but short on time and money.
To genuinely set about solving the issue, we must rethink the nature of employment.
A new mindset and learning model
The gig economy has kicked-off an era of fluid employment – providing companies with flexibility, scalability and skills, and candidates with work, when they want it. So, can this thinking be transferred into the professional job market? Indeed, having a fluid professional job market would mean employees could pick up skills while earning.
Seems like quite a few positives, so what is holding us back? In a word, recruitment. While work and learning have changed dramatically over the last five years, the recruitment process has stayed shockingly stagnant for the last 40. Technology has made flexible and remote working a genuine option and enabled online education providers like Coursera to let people learn from world class institutions without leaving your home. The recruitment industry is yet to embrace these advances, to make the process more transparent and efficient. Why? Well traditional companies have a vested interest in keeping the current systems in place – it’s how they make their money.
The technology is there. AI and algorithmic tech can make the process of finding candidates simpler, and contrary to many reports, fairer. Video enabled recruitment can bring candidates and employers closer together, making the process far more personable and successful. Through videos, candidates can demonstrate their personality more effectively, meaning hires can be based on soft skills and culture fit rather than just experience. Adapting the hiring process to focus on people’s motivations and ambitions rather than prioritising experience, can ensure employers are hiring like-minded individuals. This change in focus also allows skills to be transferred more seamlessly to those who lack direct experience.
Integrating this technology in the recruitment process would change the way we perceive work and learning. Moving company, industry, sector or role wouldn’t be feared, but embraced. It would provide employees with the opportunity to diversify their skills, while enabling them to demonstrate their adaptability, flexibility and ambition. Employers wouldn’t fear the hiring process, since it gives them the ability to scale and adapt to technological and market changes. Technology underpins this seismic shift – we’re already seen Uber transform transport and Airbnb holidays; now we need to see how technology can be used to find, hire and keep us learning throughout our careers.
This article comes courtesy of Tempo, an intelligent, video based hiring platform that makes it easy to hire great people for business support roles. It’s putting on an event on December 11 called Working 9 to 5: (Not Necessarily) The Way to Make a Living to discuss how an environment of having multiple jobs and constant learning can look like.