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Lifelong learning for a successful career

Published on 01 July 2019

Reading time 5 minutes

According to a Dell study, 85% of jobs in 2030 do not exist yet… Everything is to be learnt, to be done, to be built and that’s good news! With the rapid changes taking place in the working world, I wanted to understand the issues that this represents for our professional future and understand the key to a successful career in this ever changing context. 

Digital progress disrupts the working world

Technology has always influenced our work environment and our professions (just look at electricity and computers …). Today, big data, the cloud, the internet of things, robots, automation, video, collaborative platforms and other technologies are changing the way we work and live. Digital progress eliminates and creates jobs, but mainly transforms them.

Psydesigner, personal data broker, robot breeder, expert in simplicity … Different interesting jobs that we could all do in the next few decades. Last week, a friend of mine told me he would like to become a “chatbot scriptwriter”. Never heard of it, right? It’s normal, this job is only just being invented, as are tons of new professions that require new sets of skills.

Towards employee skill improvement

The impact of such automation on employment and business activity is central. The workforce dreads the day when robots will replace them in the workplace. Yet, the conclusions of many studies show that automation will actually remove the most painful and repetitive tasks of daily life for us to focus on more human areas of expertise: this study shows that AI will takeover repetitive intellectual tasks to allow us to bet on our strengths, our most human qualities: improvisation, creation, critical judgment and empathy.

In concrete terms, while demand for physical and manual skills are decreasing, those for cognitive skills, creativity, project management, etc … are increasing, opening up a multitude of new professional opportunities. Social and emotional skills are also put on the front stage (ability to negotiate, to manage, to take care of others, but also to train and teach).

Initial education gives way to lifelong learning

Today, too few employees have the skills to have more and more rewarding careers in a world where technological progress is increasing faster than ever. Evidenced by the shortage of skilled workers in the digital world. The needs are immense and the candidates able to fill in open positions are not numerous or qualified enough.

To face this problem, Anna Stepanoff, founder of the Wild Code School, has innovated in this area by offering a curriculum in 5 months. With a pedagogy following “agile methods” for the training of Tech specialists: “Evolving in a disruptive and non-stop environment, we are compelled to become more adaptable, more flexible and evolve much faster than yesterday. We train specialists to learn to adapt to the continuous changes in the market and tools. By learning to learn, they are self-reliant, constantly updating their knowledge and thus gaining value in a transitioning job market. ”

For Anna Stepanoff, “our educational system will move towards less initial training to more lifelong trainings.” Professions evolve and the skills needed to work in the same profession evolves at the same time (how to use new tools and new techniques). During a lifetime, employees will have to evolve in terms of skills but they may also have to change industries. We are a long way from the time when one spent all his life in a job within the same company.

Learning and renewal throughout life

It is all naturally that new learning methods and access to knowledge are emerging. Today, 2 formats are settling into our daily habits:

A daily format of 15 minutes: we learn something new every day. Many solutions appear. For example, Gymglish develops language learning solutions in fun, concise and personalized online courses.

A longer and iterative format: once every 5 years, for example, professionals will have to take a step back from their job (what I do), their life goals (what I want to go for) and the market (the context in which I evolve) to do kind of “mini-professional career change“. As a result of this reflection and to meet their identified needs, each person will be able to follow a personalized training to “reskill” (learning new skills) and / or “upskill” (improving / updating existing skills). Lifelong learning would therefore have become the key to remaining market fit throughout one’s career, but also to achieving and flourishing professionally throughout one’s career.

Governments have understood this well. France has created a “personal training account” which provides hours of training that workers can keep, even after losing or changing their jobs, that can be transferred from an employer to the other. At the European level, the “individual learning account” project is under preparation.

How will companies cope in the future? 

Faced with these changes in skills, companies must also reinvent their internal organizational model. On the employer side, leadership and human resources are adapting to the market: to convince talents, organizations will have to strengthen their internal flexibility. Remote working, training, support … All these initiatives become essential to employees.

The vision of work is also evolving. Currently, changing jobs on a regular basis is seen as “unstable” by the majority. In France, for example, it is still considered that the only valid employment contract is the CDI (long-term contract), all other forms of contracts are seen as either unstable or atypical (fixed-term contract, interim contract, etc.). In the future, fixed-term contracts may become the “norm” for a perpetually-evolving employee population. Versatility will be king and, knowing how to change mission / company / sector regularly will become a strength.

 

There is not a minute to lose, to anticipate the new challenges that are already facing workers, it is your time to take things into your own hands, take a moment to think about your job, your life goals and the evolution of the job market of your industry. Isn’t it the right moment for a first “mini-professional career change”? 

After all, we all know it too well, the only constant in life is change 🙂