Hypothesis - Perpetual personal growth is a necessity
The modern work landscape is changing rapidly, which pressures employees to constantly develop new skills. For example, in recent years, the demand for data analysts has grown by 372%. It's impossible to predict the changes that will occur in the near and distant future. Therefore, even skilled employees need to embrace lifelong learning to stay successful, with CEOs and academics alike agreeing that being able to work with AI will be the most important skill. However, even now, taking professional courses or other learning activities can result in an expanded professional network, promotion, or finding a better job, according to the survey by Pew Research Center. Self-directed learning is also one of the main workplace trends, with more and more employers encouraging it.
THE RAPIDITY OF CHANGE
The data shows that workplaces are already changing rapidly. For example, as reported by The Economist, in the past five years, demand for data analysts has grown by 372%. Even more impressively, demand for data-visualization skills has gone up by 2,574%. Also, at the moment, 49% of U.S. job postings for top quintile positions list coding as a desired skill. A few years ago, coding was much less relevant. Additionally, the manufacturing industry makes 85% more goods than 30 years ago, but with 33% less workers. Those statistics show that tech advancements influence hiring trends.
According to the report by PwC, it's impossible to predict what jobs will be available in five years. The same source estimates that in the coming years, the number of people with steady, long-term employment will go down, and eventually, they will account for about 60% of all employees. The Guardian also mentions that some futurist thinkers believe that in the future, most people will have seven or eight different jobs.
In the future, the biggest change will come with automation of many roles. PwC predicts that in the U.S., around 38% jobs are at the risk of automation, compared to 35% in Germany and 30% in the UK. Also, McKinsey estimates that between 39 and 73 million jobs in the US, and up to 800 million jobs worldwide, could be lost due to automation in the coming years. Simple jobs, such as telemarketer, are most likely to be replaced by robots.
However, the 2016 report by World Economic Forum notes that there are more reasons why the work landscape is evolving and will continue so in the future. Some other factors include the growing middle class in emerging markets, aging population in Europe and East Asia, and the changing attitudes of women.
LIFELONG LEARNING AS A NECESSITY
With all of the unpredictability of the future workplace, people need to embrace lifelong learning to adapt and become (or stay) successful. According to the Workforce Institute, 65% of kids who are now in primary school will work in jobs that don't exist yet.
However, as mentioned before, it's difficult to predict what will happen in the short future, such as the next five years. CEOs surveyed by PwC think that finding employees that have skills required to work with AI is the biggest threat to their success. 39% are already thinking about what skills they will need in the future. We can conclude that those who won't learn those highly-demanded skills will be less successful in the future workplace. It can be applied to the U.S. skilled technical workforce in particular. According to the study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, most of them aren't prepared for how their industries will change. The report mentions lifelong learning as one of the top solutions.
Also, prof. Richard Susskind, author of "The Future of the Professions and Tomorrow’s Lawyers," believes that professions like lawyers won't disappear, but they will evolve. For example, they may have to participate in developing automated systems that offer advice. His voice is important in showing that not only low-level positions can be automated. No matter of the degree of education, everyone will need to perpetually learn in the future. It's echoed by Jerry Kaplan from Stanford University, who says that automation "is blind to the color of your collar."
It also should be emphasized that lifelong learning isn't only a thing for the future. Those who pursue it have already seen its benefits. For example, 65% of professional learners surveyed by Pew Research Center say that learning activities expanded their professional network. 47% of them advanced within the current company, and 29% found a better job. Also, as reported by The Economist, students of The General Assembly, an institution which helps graduates upskill, greatly enhanced their chances of finding employment. Out of 75% of those who used GA's career advisory services, 99% were hired within two months of finishing the course.
SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING AT THE WORKPLACE
Today, an increasing amount of employers seem to promote self-directed learning. According to HR Daily Advisor, it was one of the main workplace trends in 2017, fueled by millennials who require a different approach to upskilling. Business and HR leaders surveyed by Deloitte mentioned a number of external learning options that could benefit their employees' growth within the company. 32% named external certificates, 11% — MOOCs (massive open online courses), and 14% — learning powered by social media. However, 61% of executives admitted that it's difficult to introduce self-directed learning to their organizations. Please note that those figures are global. According to Pew Research Center, 57% of American professional learners say that they are motivated by certificates needed for their current job. It suggests that U.S. employers have a similar outlook, preferring certificates to other self-directed methods.
AT&T is one of the large organizations known for encouraging employees to continuously learn outside of workplace development programs. The company's CEO, Randall Stephenson, told his employees: “Spend 5-10 hours a week learning online or become obsolete.” Also, Cigna has the "Education Reimbursement Program," which helps employees fund their postsecondary education. According to the company, every dollar they invested in the program was returned and generated additional $1.29. Their study notes that about 60% of employers offer similar support.
Continuous learning is becoming increasingly important. Both academics and CEOs agree that automation and other tech advancements require different skillsets, which will affect people regardless of their position, education level, or industry. People who embrace lifelong learning have larger professional networks and more promotion opportunities, as shown by Pew Research Center. Also, more and more employers encourage self-directed learning, though 61% of executives admit it's difficult to implement it.