Today’s job market has changed, but the educational system has not!
The jobs that we see today, are vastly different from what we’ve seen in the past. Everyone is facing a working environment that is more challenging and more unpredictable than ever. The good old days that someone worked 40 years at one job with good pensions are gone for good, and today the average time on a single job is 4.2 years, which is based on official US Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 35% of the skills that workers needs, no matter what industry, will have changed by 2020
That rapid change of jobs and skills means that there’s a huge demand to update the skills, and based on a report by the World Economic Forum, one in four adults has a mismatch between the skills they have and the skills that are needed for the jobs.
Skills of the past
To cut it short here’s the problem: the jobs that are on the market today are jobs of the modern era, jobs of the 21st century. But the way how people work around these tasks, you could say that it’s still something from the past century. And the fault is in the educational system.
In the past century, factory jobs dominated work. The educational system was created for this purpose, and later on, with some modifications, it’s still among us. Focused on tools to optimize work, operational efficiency and some other management philosophies.
Today, we’re seeing the rise of new jobs, related to freelancing and remote work. Most advanced companies are having teams that are agile and who work with distributed and remote teams as well, and scale up and down to adapt the changing conditions. The conditions of the future of work.
Education isn’t keeping up
People are still sending children through a fixed system of primary and secondary education, with a college degree on top that should help out to find the best jobs. But a model like this isn’t preparing people for a flexible world, which basically rules out your skills the moment you finish a four-year degree.
Even on the job training isn’t closing the gap. The World Economic Forum report found that 63% of workers in the US say they’ve participated in job-related training in the past 12 months. Yet employers are reporting the highest talent shortages since 2007.
How can you keep up?
People in the workforce should proactively drive their skills development forward. In other words, recognize that you need ongoing training, and realize that you hold the responsibility for your own education. Do that, and you can improve your marketability for years to come.
The first step is to ask yourself: Are my skills still in demand? What’s the outlook for these skills? And what skills could I work on today that would increase my income potential in the coming years?
According to a report from the World Bank, you should do this exercise every few years. If the half-life of a job skill is about five years (meaning that every five years, that skill is about half as valuable as it was before), you want to get ahead of that decline in value. Assess your own skills every two or three years, and get started learning new skills sooner rather than later.
For example, if you are a truck driver, you can see that autonomous vehicles are a likely threat to your employment — maybe not this year or next year, but certainly within five or 10 years. Don’t wait until self-driving trucks are a common sight on the highways to start building skills for your next job. Start doing it this year, so you will be ready when the time comes.
Don’t feel like you have to retrain yourself completely, all at once. First of all, as pointed out by the New York Times, many of the skills needed to do fading jobs are applicable to growing jobs. For skills, you do need to acquire, consider step changes. In computer science, the approach is to break down large problems into smaller ones that can be more easily solved, one at a time. This doesn’t mean that you can turn yourself from a coal miner into a data miner overnight. But you can acquire basic skills leading in the direction you want to go.
Make sure to prioritize jobs where you learn valuable new skills that should prepare you for the jobs of near future.