I’ve just finished reading “The future of work: jobs and skills in 2030” which is a must read for anyone with an interest in the trends that will shape future UK jobs and skills. The 198 page document was published on the 28th Feb 2014 but is fortunately made more accessible by the smaller “Key Findings” report and the very user friendly “Slide Pack” which contains bite size infographics of the main topic points. Although it has been written in a UK context the globalised nature of trends and influences the report mentions applies to every country. Jobs and skills are universal, which perversely, is exactly why trying to predict what the economy – and global economy – will look like in 2030 is so hard. However, the UK Commission for Employment & Skills performs an admirable job in the face of such uncertainty and chaos.
Now, rather than try and write a summary (I did produce my own condensed summary of the findings which still ran to eleven pages) I thought it best to explain why I think it is so important to read this document or indeed any of the shorter executive findings. But first some snippets on what the report is trying to achieve in the first place. [just to confirm this document comes under the Open Government License]
“This report presents the results of The Future of Work study which looks ahead to the labour market of 2030. It analyses stable trends that are already shaping the future of UK jobs and skills, and forecasts the most likely disruptions to those trends. It then plots four anticipated scenarios of what the UK’s work landscape might look like in 2030, and importantly, the skills that will be required under these conditions”.
“This research is based on a robust, evidence-based approach including an analysis of more than 300 publications related to the future of jobs and skills and additional desk research. In addition, interviews with 23 UK and international experts (see Appendix A) validated and enriched the collection of trends and descriptions and shared their expectations and future perspectives from their field from a bottom-up approach”.
Firstly the report identifies and focuses on 13 key trends such as demographic change, desire for a better work-life balance and ICT development and the age of big data. It attempts to foresee the impact these trends will have on individuals, employers, education and training provider and policy makers. The report then identifies what it calls “10 key disruptions” to the underlying 13 trends with each having the potential to impact and deviate events and the future (think the Butterfly Effect).
What emerges is the potential for four possible scenarios that could play out for the UK economy.
Forced Flexibility (business-as-usual)
Greater business flexibility and incremental innovation lead to moderate growth in the economy, but this flexibility often results in fewer opportunities and weakened job security for the low skilled.
The Great Divide
Despite robust growth driven by strong high-tech industries, a two-tiered, divided society has emerged, reinforcing the economic position of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.
Technological innovation drives the automation of white-collar work and brings large-scale job losses and political pressure, leading to an extensive government-led skills programme .
In a stagnant economy, improved productivity is achieved through a rigorous implementation of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) solutions .
These four scenarios then provide the basis for potential implications to seven major employment sectors in the UK in terms of jobs and skills.
From a career guidance perspective several extracts resonated and have implications for our practice.
“Technological growth, and the accompanying changes in business models, make the continuous adaptation of skill sets absolutely fundamental for successful participation in the labour market. More so than ever before, individuals that are not willing or able to do this will face being left behind”
Implications: We cannot be closed systems ignoring the outside world. Metaskills are essential to adapting and improving existing skill sets. How can our education system and CEIAG support this?
“As the world of work becomes more flexible, employees are expected to shoulder more and more responsibility for skills development. Self-management, alongside core business skills, such as project management expertise, and the ability to promote your personal brand, will become increasingly vital”.
Implications: We own our career not our job. CPD is a vital commitment alongside self awareness to accurately analyse our current offer to employers. We need to be open to exploring learning through various contexts and methods. The classifying and matching paradigms of old are not helpful in a world of constant change and transition. We need to embrace the challenge and opportunity of uncertainty such as chaos theory.
Summary: I really have glossed over so much from the report and missed some vital insights. What does emerge are potential strategies and actions we need to take in order to better navigate complex dynamical systems. I would encourage you (if you’ve read this far!) to take a look at The Future of Work – Jobs & skills in 2030 if you want to better understand some of the challenges ahead for us all!