To future proof the workforce, learning must become ingrained in workplace culture.
On September 13th, I’ll be at Elevate Toronto, a three-day tech festival that celebrates the best of Canadian Innovation. Alongside Krista Jones, Head of Work and Learning at MaRS Discovery District, I’ll be co-hosting Elevate Work, an entire day of the festival dedicated to a conversation about advances in workplace technologies, the changing nature of work, and what it all means for the workforce of today and the future. The topic couldn’t be timelier. There’s no doubt about it: technological advancement is bringing about unprecedented change in the workforce.
Work and skills have always been disrupted because of technology, but historically, it’s always happened slowly over generations. That’s not the case anymore. The pace of technological change today—which includes staggering advancements in artificial intelligence and automation—is moving at a speed that’s made workforce disruption intra-generational. More jobs and skills are becoming obsolete within the span of a single career. For example, we’re seeing AI technology companies targeting the replacement of what’s estimated to be up to 50 percent of current employees in the finance sector over the next 10 years, jobs that we would have considered to be “safe” from automation only a few years ago.
The good news is previous technology revolutions have demonstrated that this kind of change also creates new opportunities and entirely new kinds of jobs. The world will need more people who are able to do the jobs that AI can’t, but the truth is, going to school and getting a degree to give people the skills they’ll need to carry them throughout an entire career isn’t enough anymore. We’re not only seeing an explosion in the number of skills now needed, but also a shortening of the shelf-life of many of those skills. To properly future proof the workforce, lifelong learning must become ingrained in workplace culture.
Millennials (who now occupy the largest share of the labor market) realize this. According to a recent Gallup study, the opportunity to learn and grow is the top benefit most millennials look for when job hunting. And that’s why it’s becoming increasingly important for companies today to make sure they’re providing employees with the ability to learn and develop—people in the workforce know they need to be able to adapt faster than ever if they’re to thrive in the face of unprecedented change. To be competitive, companies need to step up and provide employees with education opportunities, while also encouraging self-directed learning. That way they can ensure that their workers are continually acquiring new skills as the old ones become obsolete.
A modern workplace learning experience—the engaging, flexible kind that leverages tools like content creation and curation, video, and social learning strategies to deliver just-in-time knowledge, training, and development programs—can be a key differentiator for companies looking to attract and retain the right talent. It can help companies create a corporate culture around lifelong learning by catering to employees’ desire for on-demand access to knowledge and skills development. In the face of disruptive change, creating a learning workforce is one way companies can elevate work—it’s good for employees, and ultimately, it’s good for business.
If you’d like to learn more about the changing workforce, come on out to Elevate Toronto on September 13th.
This post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse