7 min read
This story originally appeared in the World Economic Forum
By Ravi Kumar S., President, Infosys and Steve George, Global CIO, Ernst Young
For generations, we’ve spent the first third of our lives getting the degrees we need to find work. These titles are the stamps on our professional passports that paved the way for the remaining two-thirds of our trip. This implies that the nature of our work, along with the skills and knowledge necessary to carry it out, will remain unchanged throughout life – which, of course, is no longer the case. While our parents probably had one job for life, most of us had several – and not just jobs, but careers as well. Our children can expect to have many jobs and careers throughout their professional lives – perhaps even at the same time as the mature economy of gigantism.
It is clear that the future of work is not about college degrees, but about professional skills. Now is our opportunity to lead those without a college degree to successful careers and increase diversity among our workforce.
According to the World Economic Forum, technology is likely to change more than 1 billion jobs – nearly a third of all jobs in the world – over the next decade. We are already seeing this. Think of the wait staff in your favorite restaurant taking your order on a tablet that is connected to a central order processing system in the kitchen. The tablet has to work properly for the restaurant to function smoothly. Think about the apps that are used to shop, track orders and just keep up to date. The store has to keep them running 24/7 all year round. And since each of these stores collects and maintains customer data that it examines for trends, they need data analysts. You also need to secure this data, which means that therefore it needs to perform cybersecurity operations.
In these and similar situations, people are the organizing force that ensures that technology works the way we want it to. This means a rapid and unprecedented increase in new types of digital work. There will be a rapid influx of roles at the forefront of data economy and AI, as well as new roles in engineering, cloud computing and product development, according to the forum’s Jobs of Tomorrow report. These jobs require talent with relevant skills and, most importantly, those skills can be learned by those who do not have a college degree.
The COVID-19 crisis gives us enough reason to act on a large scale and act now. While the outbreak had relentless effects, we have found a link between the unemployment rate and educational level. For example, in the United States, between February and May, the decline in employment ranged from 6% for workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher to 21% for workers with no high school diploma (see graph below). . Workers with a college or college degree are also far more likely to telework than college or university graduates who have not attended college.
Image: Pew Research Center
However, if we shift our focus from degrees to competencies, we will enable a larger workforce that represents the diversity of our population and help fill known employment and opportunity gaps. This means the transition to an always competency-based employment and education infrastructure that includes not only credentials and certifications, but also suitability for work and employment as a result.
In the past few years, several companies – including EY, Google, and IBM – have embraced this way of thinking and hiring more alternative talent. Several others invest in continuous learning for the workforce.
Others, like Infosys, have put together a consortium of partners on a free online platform in the aftermath of COVID-19 to provide job seekers with vocational training and learning opportunities and connect them with employers who are offering new job streams. Work and career paths.
Interestingly, the future of work is not just about hard skills, but also about holistic professional skills. When it comes to skills, employers look for more than technical or professional skills. Businesses want people with an eye for detail, creative problem-solving skills, a collaborative mindset, and the ability to deal with ambiguity and complexity. These are also skills that can often be learned through apprenticeship programs. Indeed, the forum’s Jobs of Tomorrow report found that emerging professions reflect the continued importance of human interaction in the new economy, leading to increased demand for roles at the forefront of people and culture.
Image: World Economic Forum, tomorrow’s job report
As the lines between traditional business roles and technology functions blur, there is an approach to digital and human tasks that is best approached by people with a broader and more holistic mindset. Traditionally, we have seen this outcome in the context of talent with a background in the liberal arts. They are often seen as generalists – compared to settings with a technical or MINT background, their exposure range often gives them a clear advantage. Those who are qualified in the liberal arts are also in tune with learning many new and varied subjects – another benefit at a time that calls for lifelong learning.
All business leaders agree that finding not only the right people, but people with the right skills and attitudes is a serious challenge for companies. A four year employability replacement degree means relying on talent with potentially redundant skills rather than lifelong learners with always relevant skills. It also hurts all of us because our current over-reliance on college degrees further alienates job seekers who are already at risk.
How much work we put into changing our attitudes towards talent and recruiting approaches will determine how far we go.
Disclaimer: This publication is a summary of information and is intended as a general guide. It is not intended as a substitute for detailed investigation or the exercise of professional judgment. Member firms of the global organization EY cannot accept responsibility for the loss of persons who rely on this article.