The Future of Employment; A Study Has Identified Trends We Need to Plan for If We Want to Future-Proof Our Jobs. Niki Chesworth Gets a Preview

The Evening Standard (London, England), November 26, 2009 | Go to article overview

The Future of Employment; A Study Has Identified Trends We Need to Plan for If We Want to Future-Proof Our Jobs. Niki Chesworth Gets a Preview


Byline: Niki Chesworth

THE world of work has already changed dramatically, with a rapid rise in the need for flexible working, an increasingly diverse workplace and a lot less job security.

The next 11 years will see further transformation according to the Future of Employment Working Group's White Paper called Gateway To Success -- and much of it will be positive, for those with the right skills.

Even so, the in-depth analysis of the future of work from the Recruitment Employers Federation (REC), which will be published today when it holds its National Convention, contains some warnings we should all heed.

THE SKILLS GAP Despite rising unemployment, employers are still struggling to find the right talent. The so-called skills gap, which according to the report is a "significant problem" across all sectors, means that those who fail to invest in their own skills' development will suffer -- as will employers who do not take advantage of the myriad of training initiatives available.

"Our research among employers revealed that a recurring concern was a perennial issue for recruiters -- that of finding the right candidate with the right skills for the job," says the report.

"The UK is faced with a severe shortage of skills and this has a huge impact on the employment landscape. For example, unqualified males are eight times less likely to be employed than qualified males."

GLOBALISATION Employers are increasingly competing globally for talent -- and this will amplify the skills gap according to the report.

"Globalisation is a large influence on all employers, not just multi-national companies, but small and medium enterprises as well," says the REC.

The problem is twofold -- businesses are increasingly requiring a globalised workforce in order to compete, and at the same time they are increasingly competing with global businesses when looking for talent.

This means that the workforce will not just be vying for jobs with other workers from the UK, but will also face competition from those moving from abroad.

At the same time any skills that can help a business to compete in the world markets -- such as languages -- will be in greater demand.

DEMOGRAPHICS Once again, there has already been a dramatic shift in the make-up of the workforce. By next year, just 20 per cent of the labour market will consist of white, non-disabled men under the age of 45 years.

Over the next decade ethnic minorities will account for an even greater proportion of the work force -- half of all employment growth during that period.

And in London, this will be particularly significant, with ethnic minorities accounting for around three-quarters of the growth in the workforce by 2018.

The ageing workforce will be the other major trend that employers and employees need to prepare for.

During the next 10 years, the number of those aged 65 and over will increase by 49 per cent -- and the over-75 age group will increase by 65 per cent.

To put this into context, in 1950 there were 10 people working for every pensioner. Today, there are just under four.

A combination of an ageing population and the increasingly multicultural nature of the UK population, will change the workforce landscape.

For older workers, who will take up an increasing share of the workforce, the key will be to maintain skills. For the rest of us, we will have to adapt to working with an ever diverse range of colleagues -- which could span four generations.

THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY Advanced skills are becoming a prerequisite even for entry level positions, says the report. …

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