Event Date: 06/11/2020 (2:00 pm EDT - 3:00 pm EDT)
Hi everyone and welcome to today’s webinar, The Future Of Work: Preparing Today’s Workforce For Tomorrow, hosted by HRDQ-U and presented by Keith Keating. My name is Sarah and I will moderate today’s webinar. The webinar will last around one hour. If you have any questions, just type them into the question area on your GoToWebinar control panel and we’ll answer them as we can or after the session by email. I’m excited to introduce our presenter today, Keith Keating.
Keith has had a career spanning over 20 years in L&D. He holds a master’s degree in leadership and is currently pursuing his doctorate and the chief learning officer program at the University of Pennsylvania. He has experience in a myriad of areas ranging from performance improvement, instructional design, leadership coaching, operations management and process transformation. More recently, he has been leading clients on the design and execution of their global learning strategies and future workforce needs. It’s wonderful to have you with us today, Keith.
Thank you. Thank you Sarah. And hello and thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedule to be joining. So I’m really excited to be talking with you today about this topic. It’s something that I’m particularly passionate about. In fact, the future of work is my focus of research in my doctoral studies. And so for those of you just joining, I’m actually at school this week at the University of Pennsylvania, stepping out for a little bit to have this conversation, this dialogue and share this information with you.
And what’s really beautiful about what I’m sharing with you today is these are discussions that we’re having in these institutions at this exact moment. So I’ve actually been updating a little bit of the content from conversations we’ve been having as recently as yesterday. And so here’s why this is really exciting for me, is that the future is not yet written and the future of work isn’t something that’s just going to happen. We, all of us, all of us on this call, we get the opportunity to create that.
So how exciting is that to be on the cusp of something so important and so credible that you truly can be part of the creation and the design behind that? So I’ve got a lot of information I want to be sharing with you today. Probably too much information, so some points I’m going to go a little faster. But I will be stopping periodically to check in with Sarah to see what questions that you might have along the way. We’ll also have a live Q&A at the end of the session depending on how much time we have. But feel free to ask questions along the way, I will be stopping periodically.
So I’m going to be sharing some insights today into the current state of our industry, the changes that are happening and strategies for you to consider to help prepare our workforce for the future. But before we start talking about the future, or even we start talking about today, I want to take a step back and I want to talk about yesterday. And for most of us it would be many, many yesterdays ago. So take a minute, well less than a minute. Take a moment and think back to when you were younger, maybe four or five years old.
And think about the first time that you remembered that you wanted to be something that there was something that you wanted to become. And what’s beautiful about this is that we all have this in common. At one point, early in our life, we all wanted to be something. And so maybe you wanted to be a pilot or maybe you wanted to be a ballerina. How about a chef or a doctor, a baker? Maybe you were like me and you wanted to be Superman or Superwoman, some sort of superhero.
I imagine that the career that you’re in now was not your childhood dream. And unfortunately, I did not end up becoming Superman, so same exists with me. I would go as far as suggesting that you weren’t dreaming of being in HR or being in learning and development, being a trainer. Now, not that these aren’t great choices. I love my career choice. I’m very passionate about it, I’m happy to be doing what I’m doing. But it was because our initial exposure to what we could become was pretty limited.
We didn’t know what options were going to be available to us in the future. We just knew what was right in front of us, what we were learning about. And so I can remember that time when I realized after many years that I didn’t have the skills to become Superman rather and I had this fear that I didn’t know what else I could be. And where we are right now in our industry is that many of us have experienced this fear, that moment where you didn’t know what that future was going to hold for you. And that’s happening a lot right now and we’re not alone.
When we think about the workforce of the future or the future of work, one of the first challenges that we have is people don’t know what opportunities are going to be available to them. They don’t know what else they can become because they don’t know what’s going to exist, what type of skills are going to be required and the age of automation and robotics. And the reality is the current state of our workforce, they’re fearful, they’re scared. According to research by PWC, an estimated 40% of our workforce is worrying about the future of their jobs as a result of automation and robotics, 40%.
Now, when I first heard about this statistics and I started doing a little bit of research on it, it was pretty obvious to understand why they’re worried. When you just do a quick search on the internet, what you see are these seeds of fear being planted that make us wonder, will robots take our children’s jobs or are we prepared for when robots take our jobs or claims being made like robots will destroy our jobs and we’re not ready for it. And then there’s these estimates that the research firms are throwing out, like automation could kill 73 million us jobs by 2030 or robots may steal as many as 800 million jobs in the next 13 years.
Those are vastly different statistics. And then my favorite one, you will lose your job to a robot, and sooner than you think. These headlines are scary. If this is all that I was seeing, I would absolutely be scared too. So I understand why 40% of the workforce are worried. And then there’s these other statistics that are being thrown around. If you just do a little bit of a deeper search, like McKinsey says that five out of 10 jobs today are already automatable by technology that exists right now.
So five out of 10 jobs could be automated right now by technology that currently exists, or two out of 10 are in occupations that are at risk of shrinking, and only one in 10 are in occupations that are likely to grow. This is scary. McKinsey also estimates that approximately 30 million jobs in the US are at risk by automation and robotics. But it’s not just the US that’s going to be impacted, globally, it’s much bigger. They’re estimating it could be 400 million workers displaced. And of those 400 million, the US represents 23%.
Now, I’m not a mathematician, but when I saw this, I did a quick calculation because 23% of 400 million didn’t seem like 30 million to me. That’s actually not, it’s 92 million. So exactly how many jobs are going to be at risk? So I started doing even more research to find out what other institutions are saying and here’s what I came up with. PWC estimates that it’s actually going to be 38 million. Now the Organization for Economic Development estimates, it’s only 9 million, don’t worry so much.
But then Forrester Research says it’s actually 24 million, and ScienceAlert magazine says, “No, it’s only 3 million. Calm down.” Oxford University rounds off all of our research and says, “All of you are wrong. It’s actually 47 million people who may be at risk.” So what does all of this tell us? When we take a step back and we look at all of this data, we see one thing, we don’t know. We simply don’t know how big or how small the impact will be to our workforce. And I’ll tell you, I’ve had conversations as recently as yesterday with professors focusing on this field and they’re all saying the exact same thing, “We don’t know.”
But what we do know is whether it’s 3 million or whether it’s 47 million, people will be impacted. That’s what we have to remember. Now, our workforce knows this. They’re hearing this same information, they’re seeing these same statistics, and this is where our job kicks in. It is our responsibility as HR leaders, as learning and development practitioners to help them be prepared. So what can we do? We can focus on what we do know. And what we do know is that automation has a global reach that’s transforming in economies and the workforce today. This is happening right now.
These types of global changes are not new. This is not the first time that humans are going through this. In fact, technology has been evolving for at least eight centuries, since the horse collar became universal in Europe in the 12th century. Now, technology reached a new stage with the industrial revolution starting around the 19th century and roughly once a generation, we’ve got people in a near panic because technology is destroying jobs. And that is true.
But if we look back at the agricultural, the industrial revolution, what we see is that, yes, jobs were in decline, they did get depleted, but yet the rest of the economy continued to grow. So if history is any indicator, our economy will also continue to grow. And that’s what we need to focus on. And it is true that new technology often destroys existing jobs, but that is not the end of the story. We have to change that narrative. We know that new technology also creates new jobs. So think of the introduction of the automobile in the early 20th century.
So before automobiles, we had carriages and the horses that pulled them. Enter the automobile and it absolutely destroys that industry. Tons of jobs that were lost as a result of this new technology. But more importantly, new jobs were created and jobs changed. Like the streetcar changed to buses and automobiles created new jobs and new industries like gas stations and repair shops. And indirectly automobiles addressed other latent needs by creating the possibility of living further away from work, creating new towns, creating the opportunity to travel and vacation and vacation industries.
But maybe a more recent in our lifetime is the introduction of the personal computer. So when it really started to take off, it destroyed it about three and a half million jobs. But what we do know is over 19 million jobs were created. That’s an initial 15 million jobs surplus and this grows every single day. And many of the jobs that are created by technology are ones that you couldn’t have ever imagined existing before that technology. Think about this, our children right now are aspiring to be these types of jobs that we couldn’t even fathom existing.
So today you could be a professional video game player, you can be a Kardashian, an Instagram social media influencer or a YouTube cat video analyzer, all of which are real jobs. Now, I don’t know about you, but I remember as a kid, those jobs lists that we would pick from, these were not jobs that we had the opportunity to choose because they didn’t exist. And so jobs in five, 10, 15 years, they’re going to be new that we couldn’t even fathom existing right now. And so we need to focus on what we do know, and what we do know is that there’s going to be a shift in the way that we work.
Now, research firms like McKinsey & Company have been analyzing job activities. So they take occupations, they break them down into the activities that are occurring in those occupations by the capability requirements and then they look at which of those can be automated. So what they’ve actually come up with by analyzing over 2000 work activities across 800 occupations is trying to identify what are the activities that are most highly going to be automated. And this is a great insight into the near future for us because it helps us figure out where we need to focus on in terms of work activities that are going to be automated.
So what they’ve been able to identify is that there are a number of activities that we will see a reduction in hours as a result of automation. Here’s the positive side of automation that we don’t often talk about. When we’ve got technology or robots that are doing these activities for us, it frees us up so that we can use our expertise and our human skills which help us be even more productive in areas that we excel in. And so here’s the important part. There is a subset of activities where the net loss of hours as a result of automation is greater than the net gain, collecting data, processing data, and predictable physical activities.
We know right now automation does that better than us. Humans cannot compete in the long run. So what we do is we take that information and we map it against data compared to occupations and we’re able to come up with two distinct categories: jobs that have the highest probability of demand increase like teachers, social workers, engineers and jobs that have the highest probability and future demand of decrease, retail sales, logistics managers, financial clerks, vehicle operators. And this is where we need to pay special attention because in the US right now, we currently have over 25 million people employed in just these five categories.
So thinking back to the information that McKinsey has identified, they may not be too far off with their estimation that 30 million people could be impacted. Emphasis on could, of course. Now when we think about automation and technology, we tend to think that it’s something that’s not going to happen until tomorrow. So we don’t really need to worry about it today, but the reality is it is impacting us today. The work of tool and die makers are being replaced by 3D printers. Customer service agents are being replaced today by chat bots and IBM’s Watson.
Forklift drivers are being replaced by robots. Autonomous vehicles are being tested on the road today. One of my favorite ones, you no longer have to go into a bank to deposit a check. I was just showing my father how to do this recently. You can do it right from your phone, but as a result, we’re seeing less need for financial service clerks. And then if you remember R2-D2, his cousin is now replacing stock clerks. Walmart is starting to roll this out nationally. And while this might sound scary, it doesn’t have to be because we do have time to prepare our workforce, but we must start now.
And so thinking back to what we do know, we know that there will be jobs lost. Absolutely. We have to be transparent and honest about this fact. It could be as great as 15% of the workforce as McKinsey has estimated. We don’t know, but it could be as great as that. We also know that jobs will be changed just like we saw with the automobile. We know that technology and automation robotics are going to be working beside us. They’re going to allow us to be more productive. So we need to start embracing this technology. But most importantly, as history has shown us, we do know that jobs will be gained, including new jobs that we can’t even fathom existing right now.
And the jobs gained could be as high as 20 to 30% significantly offsetting those that we lose. But we’re not hearing about these types of statistics. We don’t hear about the hopeful side of automation. And there’s a reason for that. Fear sells, click bait works. It’s there for a reason. It makes money. It’s much more interesting to see a headline that tells us robots are going to take over the world and we’re going to lose 800 million jobs in the next 13 years than it is for us to talk about the positive side, how robots and automation are going to work beside us, helping us focus on other areas, allowing us to be more productive. Fear sells.
And this is where we need to step in as learning and development leaders, as HR practitioners to change the narrative and start planning because planning and action are what drive change and are what is going to be creating the future. And so we’ve got to start this. We have the opportunity now today. So I want to tell you a quick story about Mary, but before I do Sarah, let me just stop for a minute and see if there’s a couple of questions that we should address before we move on.
So everyone, if you have any questions, you can just type them along in your questions box on the GoToWebinar control panel while we’re moving through this presentation. Keith, we haven’t had anything pop in yet, but-
Perfect just wanted to check in.
I’ll let you know if that changes.
Okay, sounds good. So I want to kind of divert a little bit and tell you about my friend Mary. So Mary is a 40 year old single mother of two without a college education. Now she’s been working in retail for most of her adult life and she considers it a content job. She also considers it stable. Now Mary is dedicated, she’s dependable, she’s a team player, she’s trustworthy. She’s somebody that I would want to hire to be part of my team. She is at risk today. Her job is at risk.
Now most people think, “Yeah, the job is at risk because of automation technology.” And it just recently started to become at risk. But I want to just share with you this concept that this type of job actually became at risk many years ago with the introduction of the concept of self service. And self-service is actually not new. So in the early 1900s, grocery shopping consisted of walking into the store and you gave your list of items to the clerk who would then go find the items, bag them, or actually put them in a box and bring them back to you.
Now this sounds like a pretty sweet system to me, but that all changed in the early 1920s when the Piggly Wiggly, and for those of you not familiar, this is actually a real store that’s still around today. The Piggly Wiggly introduced the concept of self service. And what they did is they advertised it as a way for women to have more freedom while shopping, to be able to pick up their own items. Now this is really a general ploy for cost savings, reducing the number of clerks that were required. And so that was the introduction of really self-service.
This idea began and really evolved even more in the last, I’d say 15, 20 years with the introduction of the self checkout lanes. And again, it’s been advertised as an opportunity for customers to save time. Now, I don’t know about you, but every time I get in one of these lanes, it actually does not save me time because if the machine, doesn’t work, my item won’t scan, the person in front of me doesn’t know how to use it. So we’re waiting for a human to come back over and to work with us on this.
And so then at this point you kind of regret not getting over into the other human assisted line. So I think we actually have a little bit of time left before this truly replaces cashiers. But that’s the direction that we are headed in. Home Depot is launching in a number of stores across California, Home Depot cashier less stores. We’ve got the Amazon Go store. So we know what direction it’s headed in, but it is going to be a bit slower to adoption, I think, than we hear in advertising the press. But the reality is the retail sales consultant, retail sales clerk, their job is at risk.
Now, Mary isn’t alone. She’s just one of over 8 million people currently employed in the US retail sales sector who are relying on us, HR, L&D professionals to help them prepare to navigate the ambiguity and the uncertainty of their job future. They see those self checkout lanes being added. So whether or not somebody is telling them, they’re seeing this and it does make them nervous, they’re part of the workforce that’s worried. But here’s the thing, they don’t know what else to do necessarily, and that’s where our job kicks in because we’ve got to help them prepare.
So the question is how can we help them? The first is that we need to start by looking at ourselves, at our industry, HR, learning and development, and we need to identify how we need to evolve to meet their needs. Today we’re known as encouraging on the job learning, teaching knowledge, producing content, producing job related content. We’re known as the providers of learning. Some even call us the owners of learning. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that responsibility and accountability on my shoulders. I don’t want to be somebody’s owner of learning.
So what if we flip that? What if instead of being the providers of learning, we became known as learning enablers and we created connected learners that empower and enable them to take control over their future? And so to create the connected learner, there are three key components. We need to first focus on skills instead of jobs. We need to identify the skills that our talent have today. We work with the business, with customers, with the organization to identify what skills will be needed for tomorrow. And then we architect those developmental opportunities to bridge the gap between those skill areas.
We give learners the opportunity to develop those skills while we also teach them effective learning habits, identifying the skill, developing our talent, and building effective learning habits is how we will be able to create the connected learner and it’s how we can prepare today’s workforce for tomorrow. So I want to talk more about each three of these areas. And I want to start first with this concept of skills. And I want to start with the skill difference between artificial intelligence and our own because there is a significant difference, but there’s also value.
So we do need to celebrate artificial intelligence. So AI excels in linear and repetitive tasks, we excel in the creative. AI is strong in problem identification and that’s okay because we’re stronger in solving those complex problems. AI provides information, we find meaning in that information. And here’s what’s important. In the future, AI will lead the machine industries. But that’s okay because we will be leading the people. And although robots are becoming more human like and Hollywood and the media might like us to think that someday they’re going to take over the world or replace us.
The reality is robots are not human and cannot become human. And so we know that in the future we will be spending less time on those predictable functions that I talked about earlier. Like those physical activities, collecting data, processing data. Machines already exceed our performance. So we focus on the skills that separate artificial intelligence from our own, those skills that make us human are higher order cognitive skills. It’s the skills that give us the ability to connect with our patients, our customers, our employees, through empathy and interpersonal skills, or… sorry, hit the wrong button.
Or our complex problem solving skillset that allow us to think beyond linear as robots do or our creativity, our originality, our emotion, our logic. These are the skills that we have. These are human skills, otherwise known as the skills of the future. Of course, we need these skills today and we should be embracing them and focusing on them now, which we are, but we’re also calling them the skills of the future. So we’ve talked about our higher order cognitive skills. We know the difference between AI and human skills in the future and today.
It’s important to preface that because I’m seeing a big trend that we’re talking about all these future skills and in the future, in the future, well, we need empathy today. We need problem solving today, originality, these are all skills we need to be focusing on right now. But they’re going to continue to grow in their relevance, in their important as AI robotics technology begin to augment these other skill sets that they do well. So one of the first actions that we need to take in identifying current skills is we need to start having conversations with our talent today to help them identify their current cognitive skillset.
We can use a tool like a skills barometer that helps us capture and chart these results of the skills they have today, while at the same time we’re capturing the skills that they’re interested in developing further. Now here’s the great part of this. You can turn that into a skills heat map and that helps us identify where the gaps are so that we can use this as a short term developmental plan to close those gaps within our organization or our business unit. So a skills barometer helps to identify the current skillset.
Now another output of identifying current skills is an extremely important concept I want to share with you that we don’t talk enough about. And this concept was something that was one of the most valuable concepts for me to grasp early in my career and it’s continued to support me. And that is the concept of transferable skills. So for those of you not familiar, transferable skills are a core set of skills and abilities that can be applied to a wide range of different jobs and industries. They’re also known as our portable skills.
So when we think about the fact that we’ve got a workforce that are worried about their future, what a great way to help motivate them by helping them recognize the transferable skill sets that they have that are going to follow them regardless of the job, the industry, the role that they play. I mentioned I was fortunate enough to uncover this idea early in my career and it’s never left me. It’s helped me recognize that I can and will continue to be a valuable employee regardless of the company I work for, regardless of the industry that I’m in.
So when I was transitioning early in my career from a fast food worker into a more stable career, if you will, I came across this ad for a Microsoft Office 2000 trainer. And of course I’m dating myself by admitting that. But yes, it was a Microsoft Office 2000 trainer. So I looked at the skills that were listed in the requirements and then I matched them to what I knew how to do. The job title itself was a bit intimidating, which I have a whole different viewpoint on job titles and how we need to kind of evolve from the way that we use them to create barriers of entry for our workforce. But that’s for a different topic.
So the job title to me was a bit intimidating and I didn’t know what it meant necessarily to be a trainer, but I knew how to use Office 2000, I had used it in school. So I thought, how hard could it be to really teach it? Well, it turns out that teaching was not as easy as I thought it would be, but I was adaptable and I was able to grasp the concept of the skills and eventually I became good. In fact, I would say that I owe a great bit of my success in my career to this concept of transferable skills in not letting the job titles intimidate me.
So when we focus on jobs or job titles, we’re potentially alienating a whole host of qualified talent who aren’t aware that they have the skills necessary to perform those job functions. And so luckily for me, when that Microsoft Office trainer title did intimidate me, I didn’t let it deter me. In fact, it happened many years later when I came across this job title of change management, I had heard a lot about it in the industry and I thought it was a really exciting concept, but I didn’t have that job title in my experience. But it turned out that I was fully qualified for that role and I excelled in it even though I didn’t have that job title as change management.
And so that’s why the concept of transferable skills is so important to grasp just for us, but also for our talent, for our workforce, that they understand that regardless of the role, they’ve got a skill set that’s going to follow them. And so for me, I don’t focus on my functional job title. What I am is a problem solver. That is my core skillset and it’s transferable regardless of the company or the industry. The freedom and security that along with that awareness, that’s what we should want all of our talent to feel. And the same applies for Mary. She’s not just a retail sales clerk.
Mary has customer service skills, she’s got self-awareness, she’s creative, she has interpersonal skills, those are transferable to a number of different functions or industries. And she’s just not aware yet of what those options are or even of that concept of transferable skills. And so we can help her and the rest of our workforce by starting to identify the skills that they need for tomorrow and helping them understand the concept of transferable skills. So when we think about the skills needed for tomorrow, there are a couple of ways that we can identify these skills.
The first is by capturing ongoing market data that helps us predict and prepare for these emerging skill needs. And there’s a lot of work that’s happening in this area. So there’s one approach that you could take that’s being used by DXC Technology. And so they gather predictive data through supervised machine learning and then they analyze job boards and publications and they combine that with keyword business parameters. And then they’ve got brilliant DXC scientists, data scientists that use statistical analysis and probability theory to help make future skills predictions from that data.
Now I don’t have access to data scientists, I don’t have access to supervised machine learning or predictive data analytics. So I’m just sharing that that is something that’s happening in the industry and it’s a beautiful case study, but the majority of us don’t have access to this data. What we do have access to is research on these emerging skills that is free, that is fully available. It’s credible and it’s again, free. World Economic Forum, Forrester, Bersin, McKinsey Global Institute. This information is out there now.
So going back to our responsibility, our responsibility as HR professionals, learning and development professionals, practitioners, we need to be curators of this information to help our workforce understand and prepare for these future skill needs. So start researching this information today. And if I were to give you one recommendation, start with the World Economic Forum. Most brilliant people involved in helping to shape the future of work, the future of the world are a part of that initiative so start looking at that data today. Lots of phenomenal information out there and it’s free.
So while external research is very valuable, so is internal research. And one of the most important opportunities for future insight is directly through your business and your customers, gathering input on their future skill needs. Just having conversations with them, ask them what gaps are they seeing, what are their strategies for the near future? How is their business evolving and how can we help support them? One way to get that engagement with them could be by creating a skills advisory board. And this is something that I use within my organization, within our partners.
And in this skills advisory board, it consists of learning and development and HR. It consists of customers, key customers, business partners, external subject matter experts, learning experts, industry experts. And the concept is you meet on a reoccurring basis and you have these facilitated conversations to look at the information from World Economic Forum, to look at the information from McKinsey, to map that back to your industry because that research is broken down by industry. It’s broken down by job roles. I’m telling you the research is beautiful, it’s out there.
Look at that research, have curated, facilitated conversations with your skill advisory board to stay ahead of these future skill needs so that together you can find solutions and proactively develop these skills in your workforce today. We don’t want to wait until the gap is so big that’s impacting our business. It’s our job to be workforce futurists, to be thinking ahead about identifying these skill gaps so that we can help our workforce be agile, flexible, and ready to fill those needs.
So we’ve talked about identifying their current skills, looked at some ways to identify skills for the future. So now what we’re going to do is look at how do we overlay this information? So what’s in it for our employees? Why do they care? Yes, they see this information, but it sounds like it’s so far in the future, it’s not going to impact me. My job’s not at risk. So we have got to create a personal and organizational message here that’s combined. It needs to have that personal connection so it’s inspiring and motivational and helps them recognize that there’s a personal benefit and there’s a future gain to having them start thinking about developing these future skills.
Otherwise, what’s in it for them? Where’s the with them? Citigroup has a beautiful example I want to share with you that you can research as a case study in the future. They had this #BeMore campaign and the idea was it enabled and empowered employees to become better learners and contribute directly to making Citi the best bank by demonstrating the personal value and enabling employees to find motivation and learning. And here’s the key output from this. It takes it away from us pushing messages on them as HR or as their leaders or as L&D and it makes the messages resonate.
It makes it more contextualized because it’s coming from their peers, it’s coming from other employees. And so they use this campaign based focus to understand employee perspectives. And so what they did was they had these ideas of employee idea jams or they had brainstorming sessions. They had personal growth messages that were shared throughout the campaign and they had these daily challenges. It was daily self improvement, specific challenges, and they shared all of that out. And so it’s each other sharing these motivational messages about how they’re preparing, how they’re continuing to grow and develop and the value that’s coming out of that.
And again, the point here is that it’s from a personal contextualized, relevant message from each other, rather from us telling them, “Here’s what you need to do, here’s why you need to do it.” So it’s a really great case study. Just Google, the #BeMore campaign. There’s a lot of great information out there on that. Now we can’t expect your employees just to develop these skills completely on their own. This is where we need to architect and create those developmental opportunities and those experiences for them. So one approach could be creating stretch assignments.
Now this is not a new concept. The concept of stretch assignments have been around for a long time, but I’m particularly passionate about this because we don’t talk enough about it. Yeah, we all might know, sure, a stretch assignment. But who’s actually doing it? Not a lot of organizations. A stretch assignment is a project or a task that’s just outside of the employee’s comfort zone. It pushes them outside of that comfortability, but not so far that they burn out. It challenges them. And so it’s not part of their merits.
And this is an important concept because when I talk to organizations, they put it in that evaluation system. And no, we don’t want to make it part of that merits because then our employees are going to be nervous. They’re not going to want to participate in this. And in my opinion, it’s not really a stretch assignment if we’re evaluating them on a pass or fail. We need to create these safe environments so that they can have the opportunity to fail, to fail fast forward and learn from that experience in that safe environment.
And so there’s a lot of different examples for stretch assignments. It could be an internship, it could be create an internship, it could be running a new meeting. It could be spending time in another organization, in another job role just to see what somebody else does to help them grow and stretch. In fact, we should all be giving ourselves stretch assignments. My team, I ask them every six months, give yourself a significant stretch assignment that makes you grow. It doesn’t have to be at work, but keep that gray matter in your brain growing and developing.
Pick up a new hobby, learn a new language, just travel someplace. Get exposure to other areas. For someone like Mary, it could be a role swap with a self checkout lane attendant. We know there always needs to be a lane attendant there to help us. It could be managing an intern or a volunteer. It could be coordinating an in-store event. It’s just something that challenges them outside of their job where it gives them the opportunity to grow in that safe environment. Now another opportunity to architect these developmental experiences could be creating an infrastructure that houses stretch assignments or skill sharing opportunities, and it provides visibility into where these skills exist through the organization or these opportunities.
And so the concept is like a digital skills exchange platform. Now it doesn’t have to be anything too technologically complicated, SharePoint site, intranet page. For lack of funding, that could just be an Excel file that’s shared or a Microsoft Teams site, whatever you want to use, the concept is simple. It’s a database that has all the possible professions or occupations. It has a course calendar showing when, where or how these skills are delivered. It has an index of employability within these occupations. It’s got a course calendar showing… sorry I talked about that one. Course calendar, index of employability and the skills required to move into these types of professions.
So I want to share with you an example of this actually in practice. Intel has created what they call a DOT, a development opportunity tool. This is an internal platform that they use where managers can post short-term developmental opportunities that any employee can access. Again, it’s an internal tool that they use, they don’t sell this externally. But the value is that it creates two way skill visibility between managers and employees into what skills are going to be gained and brought back. It offers best fit development because it gives you the opportunity to find talent in areas that can meet those specific developmental needs.
Maybe it’s based on the work that you have done in the skills heat map, we talked about earlier. It also makes the manager benefit more clear. So it illustrates the skills that your employee is going to be bringing back into your organization but it also gives you access to identifying nontraditional candidates that you may not have otherwise known existed in the organization. So developmental opportunity tool, one idea for housing these types of skill building developmental opportunities. Now something else to consider.
Oftentimes when we have employees that are looking to transition into a new role or an occupation, they’re going to be more successful if they have really that career path helped to be defined for them. Now in some cases we may have areas or skill gaps within the organization where we don’t have current talent, internal that has those skill needs. So often the first thought is we should go out and hire a new resource to fill that skill gap. What if we flip that? Instead of immediately jumping to, “Let’s go external to hire somebody,” what if we created external developmental opportunities for our current talent to gain those new skills and bring them back to the organization?
Like allowing our employees to participate in an internship program elsewhere, or maybe we partner with a similar organization or we work with a trade organization or a trade school. One example of this in practice is with Procter & Gamble. So Procter & Gamble created a partnership. It was a digital marketing talent exchange. It was a month long job swap where it was 10 employees from each organization swapped for about a month and they up skilled in a new organization some new skills. And then they brought those back and it helped them be stronger employees. Both organizations shared that this was a really positive experience for everybody involved.
Now I don’t hear a lot about this. This is really the biggest use case that I’ve seen across the industry, but I think it’s important to continue talking about this as an option for us to develop our talent. Working with our partner organizations, working with in trade organizations, even internships, giving them the opportunity to develop these skills before we just go outside and hire new talent. Another option is using platforms like [Top Tow 00:47:03] who can identify the talent maybe with that skill set and bring them in for a specific time period and maybe they help to fill that skill gap on a temporary basis.
They help bring those skills into the organization for the talent that you’re looking to up skill that already exist and look to augment from that perspective instead of just going out and hiring that FTE. So there are options that are available to us. At the end of the day, what we need to focus on is whether it’s through stretch assignments, digital skills platforms, or external partnerships, we want to be creating opportunities for our employees to practice second skilling. And if you’re not familiar with this concept, start using it.
Second skilling is the ability to develop new skills while they’re in their current jobs. We don’t want to wait until they’re at risk, until they’re already made redundant or until they’re so fearful about the future that they’re not willing to learn. We need to start working with them today to help developing their skills. Now to round off, are connected learners. We need to help them build effective learning habits. So the concept of being a learner has shifted.
No more is the concept where you go to school, you learn a trade or a profession, and you are in your job and then you retire. That concept of learn, do, retire no longer exists. In order to be agile and adaptable, we have got to learn, unlearn and relearn, learn, unlearn, relearn. And this is a continued cycle. This is the cycle of a life long learner. As Toffler once said, the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.
Here’s the reality. Modern careers are like a nonstop conveyor belt. You’ve got to keep moving and learning no matter what stage of your career that you’re in. Being content is a mindset that puts us at risk. If we take into account how quickly industries, business, technology evolve, this is how our employees get left behind. We need to instill the concept of being a lifelong learner, which will help them be agile, adaptable, and ready to fill that next organizational gap. And so what we need to do is include the concepts and of emphasizing the importance of being a lifelong learner.
We also need to include context for our learners. I think this is a big gap that we have in the L&D industry from the learning, the training that we’ve been creating, there’s not enough context. Context shapes the learning experience. It helps our learners construct meaning based on their own experience and it brings that learning as close to their real world work environment as possible. Not ours, not the ISD, not who’s ever creating that training. It’s got to have the context for the learners. That is what leads to stronger performance support.
We also need to help our talent recognize the need and importance for practicing reflection. There is not enough reflection in learning and development. We don’t build in enough time to have these conversations. We need to reinforce that idea of learning is more about engagement and discussion than just the provision and consumption of content. And so we have to build in opportunities for those reflection exercises in ways to apply the learning in their context. This is what gives them the opportunity to change their behaviors and to build habits in that work environment.
Learning doesn’t stop. Once that learning experience, that engagement ends, there’s a sustainment factor. And it’s that reflection of the context and their real world work environment that helps to change their behaviors and drive performance support. Building effective learning habits, lifelong learning, context and reflection. Now equally as important, we’ve got to help our learners analyze information. More employees are collecting and analyzing information and making decisions as part of their primary roles.
Now it’s estimated right now that less than 40% actually are able to effectively analyze information and that leads to poor performance and greater organizational risk. And it’s no wonder with the amount of information overload. On average in the US, we’re consuming almost 10 hours a day on multimedia devices. No wonder the overload. Now, I didn’t believe that at first on my iPhone, I turned that on and just on my iPhone I consume around five to six hours per day, which is a little bit embarrassing, but I’m willing to share that with you to say this data is actually valid. So that’s just on my iPhone, doesn’t include laptop, iPad, computer, television.
So we need to help them with this information overload. Now, the way that we do that is first by addressing a question that I hear a lot. And the question is how can we build training materials rapidly enough to catch up with the pace of organizational change? The answer is we can’t build it rapidly enough and we shouldn’t be. We should be focusing on being curators rather than content creators. With all of the information that’s already available, curating the content and allowing easy access to that right information and transforming it into a usable format will help our learners analyze the information and help them build effective learning habits.
So it’s a lot of information I’ve been sharing with you, told you at the beginning. We’ve got a lot I want to cover, but I think these are all important concepts. And when we think back to when I started at the beginning and I was asking, thinking back to what you wanted to be ballerina, maybe a doctor or a superhero, again, I doubt any of us thought that what we wanted to be was in L&D and HR. I never thought I wanted to be an HR director or I want to design learning because I didn’t know that it was a possibility.
And I certainly didn’t know what skills were required. By creating our connected learners, we can help Mary and the other millions of people who may be at risk, who are not aware of the transferable skills that they already possess, who aren’t aware of the possibilities of what they can be. We can give them the opportunity to build experiences in those new skills so they do not have to continue to live in fear about the future of their jobs. No one should be living in fear. Today, our call to action is to evolve from being learning providers to learning enablers.
We need to help our employees help themselves. The truth is there is work for people today and there will be work for people tomorrow, even in the future of automation. And so as Malcolm X once said, tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. This is our call to action to start today. And rather than thinking that it’s humans versus the machines and this is a big threat and we’re all at risk, we should be embracing this. It’s humans and the machines, our future blended workforce. So we’ll stop now. I’m going to open it up, Sarah. We’ve got a few minutes left for some Q&A.
Yes. Thank you so much Keith. That was great. We appreciate you looking to HRDQ for your training needs. We publish researched based experiential learning products that you can deliver in your organization. Check out our online or print self assessments, our up out of your seat games, our reproducible workshops that you can customize and more either at our website or give our customer service team a call. And if you needed help learning a training program or you’d like one of our trainers to do it for you, we also provide those services.
We look forward to being your soft skills training resource. So we do have some time for questions. You can type your questions in the question area on your GoToWebinar control panel and we can answer those for you. Keith, we did have a couple questions come in earlier that we can answer here. Xavier wants to know what about the shifting capabilities considering that not all clerks have the skills to move to a non-automated job.
What about the shift in capabilities? So I am assuming the capabilities you’re talking about skillsets. And again, that’s where our role comes in in helping… And I know this question maybe I had answered along the way, but the reality is we have to help first of all identify what those future skill needs are so we can start developing those employees to help fill those gaps. So I’m not a hundred percent clear on the question.
This question popped up when you were talking about Mary at Target.
Yeah. So I would hope that I would have addressed it when we went through the three phases around building the connected learner. But if I didn’t, what I would say is pop the question back in and maybe ask it a little bit differently.
Carol was asking, what are we doing about better synergy between education and schools and future workforce needs? Where does investment in training of today’s workers come from? Who pays? How does pay get increased for teachers and social workers who you showed as needing more of in the future? These are currently poorly paid. That’s what she said.
That is a really great question. So I’m going to address a couple of those. There absolutely needs to be a balance between, I think that there’s a multiple approach. So there’s government, there is private, there is public, there is corporate, there’s our own individual aspect. I don’t want to get too political. What I can say is that there are countries that are doing this right. What I would recommend is take a look at UNESCO lifelong learning cities, Google that.
It is a great initiative that UNESCO is doing where it’s almost a public approach where cities can identify how they are creating future skills, free future skills initiatives, how they’re working to address this need and then they can nominate themselves to be part of the UNESCO lifelong learning cities. And so that’s one great example to take a look at who’s doing it well. Singapore is doing a beautiful job. They have funding for every a Singaporean that goes toward the future skill needs.
I’m starting to see more in the US, not quickly enough based on the population size that we have, but there are some cities that are doing it. Take a look at General Assembly. General Assembly has some key training centers in cities across the country where they’re starting to focus on this. There absolutely is more need for more emphasis on teachers. That unfortunately is really controlled by, I think, the government. We’re looking at public schools. So there’s much I can talk about on that. But I would say just in summary, checkout UNESCO lifelong cities as an example of a model that we should be following more often that merges the public and private sector.
We are seeing more in the private sector of large company, Amazon, Microsoft, the big players saying, “Hey, we’re investing 700 million into up skilling our workforce.” The irony of that in my opinion is they’re also the disruptors. So absolutely they should be up skilling their workforce. But it’s the other areas that I don’t think we have enough focus on. For example, truck drivers. I would love to see initiative set up with, assuming there’s a union or just truck driver associations where we start to help them up skill as automation becomes more popular, as Tesla’s trucks begin their automation across country, that’s a huge, huge risk for them longterm.
Retail sales sector, cashiers are absolutely going to be risk. So there’s ownership all around. I think right now we’re just at the beginning of it where we’re having these discussions. We need to continue having the discussions and evolve them from just being discussion-based to action oriented. So I revert back to General Assembly, UNESCO lifelong learning cities, World Economic Forum. Those are three players that are more action oriented and less about the financial aspect of it and more about the open source.
I think we also should talk more about MOOCs, massive open online courses. There’s a lot of free training that’s out there and I think that what we can do is we can continue to talk about the importance of being lifelong learners. I think that’s a concept that every one of us need to embrace because once we recognize it… First of all, learning happens every day. We need to be evolving past this learning as such a structured format that either is on an LMS or in a classroom and accept that there’s informal as a key component of that and we need to continue learning and turning to things like… I’m totally drawing a blank. I think it’s edX which is the Harvard and Yale and MIT open MOOC platform, which is a great way to go and learn new skills. So I know it was a really long winded answer, but hopefully I’ve given you some additional information to take a look at.
Great. And that brings us here to the hour. So this is all the time that we have for today. Thank you so much, Keith. This was wonderful.
Absolutely. It’s been a pleasure. And what I would ask is let’s continue this conversation. Please add me on LinkedIn, I’m very active there. I would love to hear more from you, understand what you’re doing in this space or what you’re interested in this space. As I mentioned earlier, my dissertation, my body of research is around the future of work, and it’s all of us together that are going to make this change. It’s not one organization, it’s not one government so we really need to work together and continue to grow our community. So again, please add me on LinkedIn. Let’s continue the conversation there
And thank you all for participating in today’s webinar. Happy training.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution has begun and the stakes are high for businesses, workers and society as a whole. The very concept of work is being redefined as different generations enter and exit the workforce. Digital technologies demand that employees acquire new skills to adapt to new ways of working – otherwise, they’ll get left behind. HR and learning and development leaders now have a call to action: ensure employees are relevant and adaptable so they can rise to the challenge of this new revolution.
The task may seem daunting but here’s the good news: drawing on insights from the disruptive technology landscape over the past 20 years, we can proactively address the complex workforce challenges we face. There never has been a better opportunity to get ahead of this issue. And never a greater risk of inaction. Our directive is clear – create the future workforce. Now.
Drawing on theory and research, this webinar will focus on helping you prepare and take action for the future workforce development. Keith Keating will discuss the concept of building the connected learner, share actionable advice on ways you can identify the skills needed for the future in your organization, and how to foster a learning culture that will motivate employees to develop those skills.
Participants will learn:
- Insight into the state of the human capital industry and ways learning and development needs to evolve to meet the needs of the future workforce learner
- Strategies human capital leaders should consider following to enable future workforce learners for success
- Key core competencies and skills to cultivate in our future workforce
- Three strategies for building effective learning habits
- Understanding how AI will impact our workforce
Who should attend:
- Leaders and managers
- HR and learning and development personnel
- Those looking to keep up with the digital workforce
Presented by: Keith Keating
Keith Keating has had a career spanning over 20 years in L&D. He holds a master’s degree in leadership and is currently pursuing his doctorate in the Chief Learning Officer program at the University of Pennsylvania. Keating has experience in a myriad of areas ranging from performance improvement, instructional design, leadership coaching, operations management, and process transformation.
More recently, he has been leading clients on the design and execution of their global learning strategies. Keating studied design thinking at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and found design thinking was a perfect tool to add to his problem-solving “toolkit.” Since then, he has utilized design thinking to help clients tap into understanding and resolving unmet customer and future workforce needs.