Are the reports of the future of work as believable as were the predictions of flying cars? As a child reading books, I remember that by the 1980s the family car would be like the Jetson's family car in the cartoons. The 1980s came and went. All we have is bumper-to-bumper traffic and road rage. Some may view these futuristic predictions as a joke like a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, Hobbes: "A new decade is coming up", Calvin: "You call this the future?? HA! Where are the rocket packs? Where are the disintegration rays? Where are the flying cars?"
Make no joke about it, not taking into consideration how technology is changing every aspect of our lives and the economy is serious. When you see the likes of Blockbuster, Pier 1 Imports, Borders, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Lord & Taylor, American Apparel, Toys' R Us, Modell's, Sport's Authority, Dress Barn, A & P Supermarket and other famous brands bite the dust, it's no laughing matter. These and other well-known companies failed to adapt to the changing market forces and are now just memories of the past.
Personally and as businesses, we will have to accept the speed of "megachanges" affecting the economy and our lives. I remember before the pandemic many "Management X style" managers and companies were not buying into the idea of letting their employees work remotely, despite several reports stating this would eventually be the future of work. The pandemic has forced many to rethink how to adapt to the future of work.
The pandemic has made us also rethink the value of lower-wage workers in the economy. Essential workers included those that helped us survive the home quarantine. How much we appreciated those delivery persons so we wouldn't have to go outside? Those that kept our facilities clean to not add to a further unhealthy environment? Supermarket workers, that put together the groceries the delivery person brought to us? Unlike the reports of flying cars, we need to seriously evaluate how the future of work affects all of us, personally and as businesses.
Take a moment to look at a video of the recent McKinsey & Company Global Institute Future of Research report:
Personal Career Development
The report goes on to say that minorities, women, and young workers (18-24) have been hit hard by unemployment during the pandemic. Many are wondering, what career should I study for? What should I learn to find a good job? Your career will be about life-long learning across different occupations and industries. By continually learning you can chart a path to your next job or career. The report gave a nice example of a cashier and a map of four possible career pathways.
Researching and mapping these kinds of career paths will help people figure out an upwardly mobile career track. Workers will also have to invest in themselves if their company doesn't provide some form of training or advancement.
Non-college-educated workers and Generation Z workers were also heavily affected by the pandemic. What advice was given for those searching and starting? If possible focus on building skills in growing industries like healthcare, tech, and logistics. The good news is that there will also be high growth in jobs that require socio-emotional skills (Emotional Intelligence), such as negotiation, influencing, and decision-making.
Hopefully, hiring will be changing. Some companies are focusing less on degrees and job titles and more on skills assessments. Job platforms are matching candidates with jobs based on skills, not past jobs or titles. This can help open up opportunities and improve mobility.
A partner of McKinsey Co. is collaborating in expanding employment opportunities for lower-wage workers based on work experience rather than credentials is Rework America Alliance. Another organization is Generation whose mission is to transform education to employment systems to prepare, place, and support people into life-changing careers that would otherwise be inaccessible.
More is needed though...
The Search for Talent
The McKinsey & Co. report stressed Capacity building as a strategic advantage for businesses. The question the McKinsey report asked was, "What percentage of revenues are you plowing back into your workforce?", "What's the amount of money you're putting into people?" The report recommended that Capacity building should be a CEO-agenda-level item and CEO-and board-level item and should be thought about down to the frontline employee. Developing talent is job one for every leader in an organization.
Several large companies have invested in different sorts of training and apprenticeship programs, creating upwardly mobile career paths for their employees. For instance, Walmart has more than 200 academies for their associates with management, supply chain, and technology training. IBM, Bosch, and Barclays started apprenticeship programs to train workers for tech jobs with career pathways.
The pandemic has affected all of us. It has also made us appreciate workers from delivery persons, grocery workers, and essential workers. It will take everyone to help rebuild after this pandemic, both workers and businesses. We have already seen what seemed like life-long brands disappear because of the disruption of technology. We still may not have flying cars yet, but the writing is on the wall for those that do not adapt to the technological changes.
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