On the one hand, automation, robotics and artificial intelligence are changing the production processes and business models in all sectors of the economy. The labour demand is being modified according to the new skills and knowledge required by the new business environment. Against this background, the workforce must be trained to adapt to the new market circumstances.
On the other hand, we have demographic trends, which in developed economies translate into an aging population that puts pressure on the social welfare systems. The solution in many cases is to extend the working life to maintain social security systems. In a nutshell, we will foreseeably have to work a greater number of years in the future.
In summary, we have two major trends in the labour market: a continuous innovation process that rapidly changes the skills and knowledge required to remain active in the labour market and workers with a longer working life. As the OECD Employment Outlook published in 2017 points out, one of the keys to help workers navigate this rapidly changing market is to enable them to build the right skills throughout their working lives to adapt in response to the market needs.
Work Has Changed, Driving The Need for Continuous Learning
Fortunately, there is a revolution as well in the world of Learning that gives us access to courses in flexible ways thanks to the new online methodologies and initiatives.
The traditional Macro-learning dominated by instructor-led programs is complemented with Micro-learning, things we can quickly read ot view as they only take 10 minutes or less, a short video, a blog, etc.
Internet offers many possibilities to train for free and with flexible learning rhythms. An example is the Coursera platform, but more and more Universities and Business Schools are investing in their educational platforms to reach a wider audience at an affordable price.
We must take advantage of the numerous training opportunities offered by the market.
In his speech at Stanford University, Steve Jobs spoke about a powerful concept "connect the dots": "You cannot connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them when you look back. So you have to trust that the points will connect in the future. " As an example, he describes how he attended calligraphy classes during his time at the University, and then understood how it influenced him to include the fonts in the word processors on his first Macintosh.
Learning is the key to remain employable and to promote our career: in the direction you want. Invest in training in the areas you like so you can stand out and thus be attractive in a future for companies who seek that profile or knowledge.
The digital revolution that we currently live requires us to understand and apply computer tools and modern techniques, but it goes much further. It is an unstoppable process towards a new work environment that demands new competences.
We are seeing how organizations become more collaborative, and less hierarchical. Work teams manage much more information, and data analysis and processing skills are critical. Communication skills, coordination and flexibility to work in a diverse environment are characteristics increasingly demanded in today's world.
If you are starting your career, I do not think you have a choice, you will have to become a Lifelong learner.