The 21st century is constantly referred to as the century of change and innovation. The very nature of jobs and work will change and we’ll all have to work smarter to match it with our global competitors. We are now well into the second decade of this new century and not much has changed. In fact, and despite all the rhetoric, probably the biggest change I can see looming on the horizon is the potential for more flexible work hours, and that’s thanks to our over regulated industrial relations system rather than any grassroots innovation!
It seems to me that the Australian workplace is stuck in the traditional work paradigm and that this is a very dangerous place to be! Just look at the outcry over the loss of car manufacturing in Australia!
Yet there is no doubt that Australia must change its outlook on work because in the global economy we are such a big part of, it seems that jobs and work are being transformed at unprecedented rates. The global competition between countries is leading to (as we’ve seen with the vehicle manufacturing) entire industries migrating.
Alongside the changes in industry, there are subtle but dramatic changes occurring to our terms of employment, and the concept of a ‘lifelong job’ has disappeared. Instead workers are being employed on short term or fixed contracts and they are expected to move from one organisation to the next as the project work is finalised and another commences. Increasingly, the individual needs to take personal responsibility for his or her own job and career.
Forces that will shape future jobs and work will include the need for companies, organisations and institutions to be flexible and nimble so they can meet the challenges head-on. This flexibility will be extreme by today’s standards. Information will be available more rapidly, and decisions will be therefore be faster than ever before. Challenges will include chaotic markets that will move with complete unpredictability. Resources and supplies will be equally unpredictable.
In big companies, people willing to take carefully evaluated risks and those having an entrepreneurial spirit, will be sought to maintain competitiveness in a global turbulent world.
There are many reasons for all these changes including globalisation; the acceleration of technological innovation; the flattening of the chain of management in organisations and the focus instead on work-specific teams – many of which will be virtual; as well as huge numbers of people working on contracts as jobs are broken down into team-based project work.
The worldwide shortage of skilled knowledge workers is becoming more severe. In many businesses this will mean fewer people, but a much higher percentage of really talented people. In globally competitive companies, only the brightest and the best can be assured of full and rewarding employment.
The nature and shape of work is changing and the drivers of this new global economy are:
- Creativity, and
This means companies will become highly selective in their choice of employees, seeking people who can think on their feet. More and more, rote and mechanistic work, and work that can be substantially automated or digitised, will be consigned offshore to low cost workforces, technology driven factories or service centres.
So what does this mean for you as you consider your own Professional Development?
Well, never before has lifelong learning been more pertinent, and this will need to be viewed as a continuous process to meet tomorrow’s challenges.
This means employees will need to regularly update and expand their skills to prepare for future job demands.
To remain competitive, Australian companies must change and when they do they will be looking for an edge so they will be seeking employees with competencies in, not just the skills and knowledge required for a specific role, but a much broader range of competencies in all sorts of skills to maintain the competitiveness of their business. They’ll be looking for employees who continually update their skills and knowledge and who are aren’t afraid to think outside the box.
In the decades ahead, the movement of goods, services, ideas and people around the world will get progressively easier and more prevalent than ever before, another factor to consider in career planning and professional development. Every individual will have to put more emphasis on making himself or herself more employable. Individuals will have to continuously ask themselves what makes them unique and enables them to make a difference in the workplace. This means that employees will need to learn about the business of the employer and, they will have to learn to market themselves.
Now this is what I’ve been talking about for a long time, and especially when I introduce and welcome mature age learners to our online programs. It’s no longer enough to have the skills and knowledge to be a competent HR Professional, IR, Sales or General Manager or even a Project Manager – you must have something more. You must be able to add value to the organisation you work for, so you need to think innovatively, solve problems and make decisions, inspire and motivate work teams to become highly productive and innovative in their approach to work and so on.
This is where the College for Adult Learning sets itself apart from others. It offers this additional and highly valuable learning to all its mature age students as it sets people in mid-career on the path to lifelong and continuous learning and professional development for career mastery.
Knowledge workers will also need to keep up with technology and the rapid and extreme changes it brings with it. Employers will expect individuals to have the skills and be able to apply them to their work using a variety of proprietary and public tools. This means that individuals will need to continually update and invest in their own training in new technologies as they hit the market and seeps into work processes.
A passion for constant self-renewal will be a ‘must’ in the future. Individuals will not only have to be passionate about the work they do, but also passionate about lifelong learning and permanent exploring of new knowledge and long-term employment opportunities. Taking risks, thinking critically and looking at things with new eyes will be essential in the future.
So then, when the Australian workplace shifts paradigms from the old to the new, the future of jobs and work will be exciting, new and challenging. It will be full of uncertainty and ambiguity and the smart career savvy employee will need to be ready to embrace it.
This means you need to change attitudes and behaviours, to engage in self-directed learning and to recognise adult development as a livelong endeavour. The College for Adult Learning can help you on your way by providing you with courses that contain the latest and most up to date knowledge and application in programs that encourage you to think entrepreneurially, make decisions and solve problems. Our programs also show you how to get the best out of teams how to inspire, transform and run highly productive and innovative work practices.
If you want to become that top percentage of truly talented employees that all employers are seeking then you can commence your transformation today so that you are ready to embrace the future and mould your work to suit you.