View from the boardroom: Karen Handley

Mar 2, 2020 | Sector & policy

Millennials and Gen Z already make up over half of the global workforce today. We need to invest in entry-level talent so that our organisations can be future ready now.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is unfolding before our eyes and it is rooted in a new technological phenomenon—digitalisation.

The effects of the changing forces of Industry 4.0 cannot be underestimated. During the past decade many jobs for which people were educated and trained have changed significantly because of digital technologies. We have employees in the workplace using technology that didn’t even exist when they began their careers. And in some sectors, artificial intelligence is now performing tasks that defined certain jobs, forcing the people in those jobs to exercise different, uniquely human skills.

We’re also working differently. Organisations are increasingly becoming more flexible, with a move away from the traditional 9 to 5 roles in the office. We are moving into a work anytime, anywhere environment, and on any device future.


Emergence of new roles and skills

Successful professions in the future will increasingly require both ‘digital’ and ‘human’ competence.

Now, emerging professional clusters reflect the adoption of new technologies. The future of work will also have a growing demand for a broad variety of skills including disruptive technical skills as well as specialised industry and core business skills. And according to a PwC report in 2019, CEOs are increasingly concerned about the skills that will be trending in 2022, such as creativity, problem solving and leadership.


Generational change

Millennials and Gen Z make up over half of the global workforce today and we know that these generations are different. They are the most fluid group in their experiences and career, with their life based on ‘insta-anxiety’ and career happiness is key. The way that they think about employer relationships and customer expectations is more prominent in this group and organisations need to understand and tap into this generation’s know-how to stay successful.

We need to question what their drivers of change are and how these may influence the skills that the organisation needs in the future.


Future careers

Leadership talent is typically a priority to organisations, evident through use of sophisticated systems, and regular talent conversations as well as the creation of leadership programmes and succession planning models. However, as we identify the roles and skills required in the future, it will become critical that the leadership talent pipeline funnel starts by building future capability and technology with entry-level talent.

As new roles and skills emerge it will become increasingly difficult to recruit through a typical ‘buy’ sourcing strategy. Programmes such as those for apprentices and graduates will become increasingly in demand as a way to grow these skills.

Entry-level talent will offer a digital native mindset and have higher engagement and retention than other employees. Programmes will address skills shortages, ensure customer centricity and improve workplace diversity as well as drive high advocacy for products and services.

As apprenticeships are increasingly understood in terms of their importance to skills growth and more employer ‘trailblazer’ programmes are designed to meet technical skills for the future, I believe they will continue to grow – to support young people and also those wishing to reskill later in their career to enable them to deliver new skill sets in new roles.

There has never been a more exciting time to be part of our industry and to influence the future of work through apprenticeship and graduate programmes.

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