Recent advancements around automation as well as an increasingly flexible workforce has led to a departure from the traditional employment model. Whilst previous generations have spent their working lives enveloped in the security of a more linear career path – stemming from a period of focused study such as an apprenticeship – we are now seeing a significant step away from the ‘job for life’ mentality.
Currently people are expected to have between 6-11 jobs on average but it’s predicted that this will increase even further. Moving forward not only could people move between as many as 40 jobs, it’s possible they could have as many as 10 different careers across their working lives.
As a result, we are now operating in a profoundly different work environment. This means that employers need to be adaptable and fluid to attract and retain an engaged workforce and ensure their employees’ skills are up-to-date, relevant and easily transferable. With younger workers expected to move around more – on average every three years – employers need to be able to keep up with the pace of change and the skills required for the business. Otherwise, they risk being lumbered with a staff with a ‘shelf life’, where skills become quickly outdated and workers less productive.
This is putting an onus on individuals, educational institutions, the government and businesses to adopt a new continuous learning approach.
More recently, government policy has pushed responsibility for education and training to the individual. For example, most students fund their own degrees and subsequently, on completing higher education, find themselves incumbered with significant levels of debt – typically around £35k-£40k (Boursnell, 2015).
However, this is not paying dividends when it comes to entering the job market with many graduates struggling to find secure jobs. In this context, we could see a step away from the traditional education model in favour of cheaper, more flexible learning tools.
This then raises the question of what role the employer will play in future education? With staff turnover increasing and the shelf-life of necessary skill sets shortening, businesses will likely begin to struggle to keep their workforce as highly skilled as possible unless they adopt this move to anytime-anywhere learning.
For this reason, online, peer-to-peer and ‘just in time’ training and development will have to become an integral part of a business’s offering to employees, otherwise they risk losing out to a company that has a better trained workforce. We have already seen some institutions harnessing online advancements through the introduction of MOOCs (massive open online courses) which enable employees to study on the move and in bitesize increments.
If learning new skills is considered an investment for future income opportunities, there will be a demand for the financial services industry to develop tailored products which are able to assist individuals and business in this process.
For individuals, as a linear career path becomes the exception rather than the norm, this may well favour platforms which are able to cater for periods of income uncertainty – part and parcel of a fluid workforce where people are regularly moving between jobs. For example, a platform which offers a saving plan whereby payments in could flex and change based on earning patterns, could prove very popular.
Those businesses who embrace this and work with operations teams and back office systems to create new and innovative products to support individual’s needs could reap the rewards. However, those who fail to do so could find themselves failing to attract top talent and encumbered with a workforce whose skill sets have already passed their sell by date.