In our last post, we talked about the future of work and looked at how outsourcing and telecommuting are trends you need to be aware of and prepare for in order to do well in your career. In this post, we are going to look at a few more areas that may dramatically change the way we work in the future.
Education for New Employees
Right now, employers don’t feel that they are getting highly trained employees from university graduates. There are a number of programs that are trying to better align what is taught in college courses with what the business world needs. These efforts may help, but I think we are going to continue to see a large separation between what you learn in school and what your first employer needs you to know.
Some employers are starting to wonder if it makes sense to hire college graduates. The thinking is that if they are going to have to spend a lot of time and money training a new employee, they may be better off with someone who isn’t coming in with 4 years of college debt. I have even seen some companies launching pilot programs to start training kids in high school.
The need for a college degree isn’t going to go away any time soon, but expect to see more and more companies focused on their own training programs and developing specialized “just in time” training that you’ll go through before taking on new responsibilities.
It used to be you could start a job out of college and work your way up at that company until you retired. Now days, few people expect to retire from the same company where they start their career. Since you will probably change jobs several times, you need to be thinking about how to make sure you have skills that go beyond just what is needed at your current job.
Easy access to education both through online university courses that lead to a degree as well as forms of free training mean that there are many opportunities for continual education. The good news is that if you are highly motivated it is easier to continue learning than at any other point in time. The bad news is that it is easier for everyone else as well. If you don’t work on keeping yourself educated, you may find you are competing against people who have resumes with a lot more education on them.
30 years ago, the president and vice presidents of a large business would all have had one or more assistants/secretaries. A few years ago I was working with an airline and found that the top 6 or 7 executives all shared a single assistant. Technology has helped enable this shift, but there has also been a big change toward expecting even high level people to do things for themselves.
When my grandparents were buying a typewriter years ago, the salesman set it up and offered to let my grandma try it out. He was surprised when my grandpa wanted to type on it as well because it was less typical for men to type back then. Obviously, a lot has changed and not being able to type today would be about the same as not being able to read.
It is worth thinking through your skill set and making sure you don’t have huge gaps that require you to rely on others. That doesn’t mean you need to do everything, but you don’t want to be so specialized that you can only function in the specific environment where you are currently working. One of the most valuable traits in an employee is the ability to just get things done. A good portion of that is being able to overcome obstacles without needing to wait on someone else.
More and more companies are becoming less concerned about how much time you put in and more concerned about what you actually accomplish. For motivated people, this is a wonderful change because it means they can work hard, be productive and enjoy a level of flexibility where their job hours shift to accommodate their life and family commitments. On the other hand, some people still have a very hours-oriented mindset and will find these types of work environments difficult to handle. Worse, many people haven’t trained themselves to think about how their work actually contributes to their company and will find results-based work environments confusing and frustrating.
Even if your current job looks more at the time you put in than the results, you can train yourself to focus on your productive output to make sure you have the mentality that will thrive in a shift to results-based employment.
The way you work today is a lot different than the way your grandparents worked. The rate of change is only increasing. Your ability to think about the future and prepare yourself to be in demand in 5 years is an important part of managing your career.