I would like to indulge you in some recent research I was fortunate to participate in. I started on this path of what I call a "Workforce left behind." In essence, it is reskilling. There has been quite a bit of conversation around this topic as we continue to learn that many employed and unemployed workers lack the necessary skills required for both the present and future jobs. The rate of change in science, technology and professional services has created a gap where many have found or are finding it difficult to compete. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate was at 9.0% as of January 2011 and is predicted to remain high some some time. So, how does this relate to the reskilling research that was conducted?
A corporate network called i4cp (The Institute for Corporate Productivity, i4cp), whose focus is on human capital, conducted research to learn what concerns high performing organizations as it related to Employee Learning, Reskilling and Career Development. The results were very interesting and there were some concerns that truly stood out. For example, just over 50% of the respondents found it difficult to hire workers with critical thinking skills and workers to fill managerial positions. Just under 50% responded that it is difficult to hire employees with technical skills. And over 40% of respondents disagreed with the statement "We have an agile learning organization." There were other statements where the concerns were some what alarming, but all in all, the data suggested that there is work to be done in the area of human capital development.
As with any research, we can debate its validity and we do. That's fair. But I invite you to do a little research. Take you present job role or title and begin searching similar jobs posted on company websites and job boards. Then, take a look at the types of skills being sought and ask yourself do you possess the skills necessary to be considered for these jobs? It can be both frightening and humbling when you really look at the skills companies are asking for. So imagine if you are unemployed or employed, but not learning agile, how hopeless the job market could appear. We have shifted fairly quickly from a highly industrial based workforce to a highly service based workforce. And for many reasons, learning agility has not kept pace with the changes in skill requirements for a country whose staple is innovation. So what's being done to address this gap? How are you and your colleagues ensuring that you remain or start to become learning agile? How do those whose supervisors lack the skills necessary to conduct effective performance, development and career discussions stay learning agile or become learning agile? How do we become the stewards of our career growth?
First, recognize that successful career growth starts with having a plan. This plan consists of Assessing, Testing, Searching and and then Planning. Assessing begins with how you see yourself, your interests, and your skills. It requires that you are honest about your view of self, your interests and your skills regardless of what you do and where you work. Assessing requires that you be a little selfish, dare to dream and be open to what you want. Testing requires that you seek input from others as to how they see and/or perceive your knowledge, skills and abilities. This requires that you seek the input of those who you both trust and believe will be honest. It does not serve you to seek feedback from those who will tell you what you want to hear. Third, searching involves investigating areas and opportunities that could help you acquire the skills and knowledge you need to grow in your career. This includes both internal and external career investigation. And last, develop a plan to achieve your career goals. A plan will help keep you on track and help hold you accountable for your career aspirations.
There are some really useful tools and websites to help you develop and execute your plan. Allow me to offer a few suggestions. If you start with assessing, there is a tool such called the Self Direct Search, SDS. This can help you learn about your career interests. It can be foundational as you begin to test and search. Mind Tools, mindtools, is a great site for those who are looking for tools to help with testing. For example, there is a personal SWOT analysis that can extremely helpful in understanding strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It's a fairly simple tool that can yield helpful, open and honest feedback. After you have assessed and tested, you will begin to learn what careers and/or career fields interest you. You can take what you have learned and use that data to search O*Net Online, O*Net Online. This website will allow you to learn about the knowledge, skills and abilities required to perform specific occupations. You can even use your SDS results to focus on occupations of interest. It is a great resource to help you plan.
There are many more tools and websites available to plan your career. These suggested are a small number compared the many available resources out there. It does not matter whether you use these tools and resources or others that you find useful, but the key to achieving your career goals is to recognize that a plan is essential and that you use whatever tools and resources that are helpful to building your plan. You can career search without a plan, but its much like driving and not knowing where you are going. There are several things that can feel and some times are outside of our ability to influence or change, but you can own your career. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to discuss career exploration further. Happy planning.