Career Professionals: Are We Ready for the Future of Work?

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By Maureen McCann.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Skills for Jobs report published late last year, there has been a shift in the global labour market. The change is a result of technological progress, globalization, and demographic changes.

In essence, there is a misalignment between the skills available in the marketplace and those needed to fill jobs in the labour market. On a global scale, the report found that “approximately 35% of workers are mismatched by qualifications.” This is causing some jobs to be less in demand (increasing the supply of workers) and other jobs to be more in demand (decreasing the supply of workers).

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2018 suggests a net positive outlook for jobs, but cautions readers about the growing skills instability, suggesting that upskilling and reskilling will be essential.

From this research, a pattern has emerged that suggests three things:

  1. Continuous learning will become a staple for career success.
  2. Self-reliance and accountability for career development should increase.
  3. To prepare for changes, one must be proactive vs. reactive.

As career professionals, we will need to help de-risk clients by educating them now about the emerging trends in their industries. To do this, each one of us practising in the career development field must have a solid grasp of the future of work.

The Future of Work: How Can Career Development Professionals Prepare?

The shift in the labour market has already begun. Whether or not we have noticed or are paying attention to this change, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is underway.

Much like we might tell a job-seeking client to conduct research into the local labour market using labour market information (LMI), we as career professionals can, and should, begin to explore the future of work. Think of future-of-work research as the LMI for our own profession. We can use our findings to educate ourselves about what’s happening in industries globally, regionally, and locally, and apply this knowledge to the career decisions we help our clients work through.

So, where do we start? What sources should we follow?

As I began my own research a few years ago, I noted a few keywords to watch for in order to expand my learning:

You can do a Google search for these words or start to look for them in your social media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram). You might want to create a Google alert (an email sent to you daily with newly uploaded posts about the topic). You can also look for these keywords in traditional media sources such as TV shows, newspapers, business publications, and presentations at conferences and workshops.

Key Information Sources About the Future of Work

In addition to the above-cited reports, there are a few publications and sources that I’ve found to be very informative. You can use these as a starting point to begin learning about the future of work. Among other topics, you’ll find:

  • Trends in local industries that may affect local employers.
  • Data to help inform clients about the need to upskill and reskill in order to remain competitive for jobs.
  • Details about recent and upcoming changes in the hiring process.

Global business sources

Canadian content

U.S.-based thought leaders

Career Professionals Have a Key Role to Play

According to the Labour Market Information Council Insights Report, “42 per cent of the Canadian labour force is at high-risk of being affected by automation…workers will need to acquire new skills to adapt to the changing nature of job requirements…Canadian jobs involving routine tasks, which are mostly done by low-skilled workers, are highly susceptible to automation.”

Now, more than ever, career development professionals find themselves in a unique position to help bridge the gap, counselling vulnerable workers so that they remain marketable – “…those most in need of reskilling and upskilling are least likely to receive training…” (World Economic Forum, 2018). This shift may cause a heavy burden on the social system as those unable to upskill may struggle.

Will labour market challenges be a threat or an opportunity for our clients? How career development professionals act now to educate and counsel vulnerable clients will help determine the answer.

Change can be scary for our clients. When we help to keep them informed about what is happening in our global and local economy, they stand a better chance of staying ahead of the curve and managing the potentially significant changes coming their way.

Photo by geralt on Pixabay

This article originally appeared on January 25th, 2019, in CareerWise, published by CERIC.



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I love that you shared this resource here, Cathy. I am a big fan of CBC Radio and The Current (often with Anna Maria Tremonti). I’m listening now to Andy Peters in the opening of the clip (and laughing about his take on automated checkouts).

It’s interesting to listen to the CEO of Blue J Legal talk about how automation can be used to identify a way to analyze how judges lean in their decisions! I like the term he uses to describe his law firms use of technology as a way to help lawyers “level-up.”

While I feel for your step-son who has (by the sounds of it) lost some talented paralegals and clerks from his firm, I’ll point you to a piece I wrote in September of 2017 about the changing world of work:

Things are changing so rapidly, each of us is wise to pay close attention, so as to direct our career decision-making.

To quote Sareena Hopkins, Executive Director of the Canadian Council for Career Development (3CD)

“In a world that is unpredictable and changing quickly, career development is the superpower…”

Great article Maureen. I like Heather McGowan. Here’s a talk she did that I try to rewatch every few months:

Heather McGowan’s work caught my eye a few years ago when Jacob Morgan interviewed her for his podcast. I wholeheartedly agree that we try to watch her content as often as possible! She shares incredible insight into the future of work, something, as career professionals, we must pay close attention to.