Careers and Learning: a New Reality

data point tuesday_500

This, from Kelly, really hits the nail on the head:  “The last two decades have radically altered the way skills are acquired and developed. Skills are no longer “front-end loaded” onto a career. Rather, they are characterized by lifelong development and renewal. Most skill sets have a finite life.”

Skills are no longer “front-end loaded” onto a career.

But who recognizes this really? Employers who lament that they can’t find the skills they need in the workforce? Students who report being less than adequately prepared to enter the economy? Unemployed workers who can’t connect to a new employer?

Most skill sets have a finite life.

This has never been truer than today – and the “lives” will be getting shorter and shorter.

In their recent Global Workforce Index™ report, Career Development and Upskilling, Kelly looks at survey data from 120,000 people (workers, presumably) in 31 countries and has some very interesting data to share.

For example, most workers believe they are proficient in critical “soft skills” but Bilingual skills, Leadership/initiative and Creativity/innovation were all seen as needing development. Employees believe this of their skill sets. And most business leaders would not argue with these areas of deficit. Of note, however, is the belief on the part of employees that they have good mastery over the most critical “soft skills.” If true, perhaps learning budgets (such as they are) could be better deployed. If untrue, some challenging performance conversations need to be held!

Kelly Global Workforce Index April 2013 Critical SkillsOf course, in terms of the skills gap, most attention is being paid to STEM workers.  Interestingly, these workers believe that their proficiencies in the most important skills sets of Analytical/critical thinking, Evaluation, analysis and troubleshooting, and Complex problem solving are solid (no lack of self-esteem in this group). Where they might need development are in the more complex technical side of things: systems, computer, software and mathematics, calculations, measurement and monitoring.

Kelly Global Workforce Index April 2013 Critical STEM SkillsIf lifelong learning really is the reality, then self-driven learning will be key.

And if self-driven learning is key, then a realistic assessment of current skill levels and actual skill gaps will be critical. For everyone:  employers, employees, learning providers – everyone!

These observations based on their survey responses seem common sense and almost obvious. Almost. I think most business leaders – and HR professionals in particular – would agree with Kelly that skills are no longer front-end loaded onto careers. They’d also agree that most skills have a shelf life.

But it doesn’t appear that we’re approaching the answers to the skills gap as a systemic shift in the nature of careers. We’re approaching it as a simple supply vs. demand dynamic – if we approach it at all. Perhaps this data can shift the conversation and approach to a more useful and motivating discussion:  the nature of careers has shifted and so the nature of education and employment needs to shift as well.

Then we might make actual progress in addressing the perceived mismatch between the jobs available and the skills in the existing talent pool.



Filed under Career Management, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, HR Data, Kelly Global workforce Index, Kelly OCG, Skills Gap, STEM

2 responses to “Careers and Learning: a New Reality

  1. I know I have plenty of skills to learn! Great to see data of how people perceive these skills. A great practice that pairs well with these conclusions is to allow employees avenues for individual development. For areas that only impact one employee, invest in books or classes. Clearly all skills are not the priority for all employees, so leaving room for individualization can make a big difference.

  2. For years our colleagues in HR responsible for ‘development’ were in control of this critical aspect but obviously it assumed w had hired people who could be developed in the first place and second, that sufficient investment was available for OJY, Training, professional conferences and other learning events.

    I think the firms that solve the problem will:
    – put TA and Development together organizationally and cross fertilize these two jobs specifically…not sure Talent Management is the right moniker
    – deploy not just employer-based simulation and assessment tools that are ‘game-like’ in their construction but ensure that the employees can learn from them by using them rather than rely on ‘experts’ i.e. i/o psychologists telling them after analyzing them. Don’t need it and don’t have time or money for it.
    – ensure that performance data is tracked back to the so-called ‘fit’ assessments made by recruiters and hiring managers. Get rid of GI=GO in TA Make sure that we are hiring for demonstrated ability to learn in some rational time frame than being fixed in a set of skills, knowledge and experience that are likely to become outmoded.
    – have data to share with candidates about management style of hiring manager and collaborative style of teams so candidate can choose whether firm is capable of delivering on expectations.

    That would be a start

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