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The Decade Ahead: Committing to Lifelong Learning

LinkedIn’s Canadian Emerging Jobs report for 2020 leverages LinkedIn data to highlight jobs experiencing tremendous growth—specifically the Top 15 jobs that have emerged in the last five years. The report also highlights skills associated with these roles and why they are important. Now, more than ever, there is a need for fluency with data—where to find it and how to understand it, use it and present what it means to others.

“The illiterate of the future are not those who can’t read and write but those that cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn” – Alvin Toffler

Some of you may have caught LinkedIn’s Canadian Emerging Jobs report for 2020. This report leverages LinkedIn data to highlight jobs experiencing tremendous growth, specifically the top 15 jobs that have emerged in the last 5 years. In addition, the report highlights skills associated with these roles and why they are important. What struck me about the results was how heavily tech was represented, not only the job titles themselves, but also the prevalence of tech skills in non-tech jobs. Now, more than ever there is a need for fluency with data – where to find it, how to understand it, use it, and how to present to others what it means. HR practitioners and leaders are required to be more and more proficient with applicant tracking systems (ATS), human resources management systems (HRMS), social media platforms, cloud based talent learning management (LMS) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. You may also need to be familiar with structured query language (SQL) to generate effective metrics. Data is everywhere and the days of stating your proficiency with MS Office on your resume are over…you need to be better than that.

As tech and data are woven into the fabric of our workplaces with more and more frequency, the challenge to keep up becomes more of a problem. Indeed, it is getting harder and harder to organically keep up with the pace of change. People are also less tolerant of the excuse, “…I don’t know how that application works”, or the question, “how do I run this report”? Figuring out how a piece of software works, or how to fix or learn something independently has become an essential skill. My 12 year old daughter taught herself how to play the ukulele using an app; I taught myself how to run CRM reports and bleed the brakes on my motorcycle by watching YouTube videos. Not sure how to add a background photo to your LinkedIn profile, use Google to find out. As the pace of change accelerates, learning how to learn is more important than ever, and is something that employers’ value.

The Risk

In my capacity as outplacement consultant, supporting people through unexpected career transitions, I’ve seen first-hand how difficult it can be for people who haven’t kept their skills up-to-date to re-integrate back into the labour market. Trying to play competency/credential catch-up after a significant amount of time can have catastrophic career consequences. It is another story for those that have continued to keep their hard and soft skills sharp, as they can easily demonstrate their relevance in today’s market and how they can be of value to a potential employer. The good news is that you don’t have to enroll in a 13-week university course to learn a new skill or further develop a competency. Just as the essential skills and job titles have evolved, so too have the way learners gain access to new information.

On-Line Learning and Professional Programs.

Since (now called LinkedIn Learning) started offering courses on-line in 2002, there are more and more on-line learning platforms to choose from. Many of these skills-based courses are free and can take as little as 5 minutes to complete; with platforms like LinkedIn and Coursera, major obstacles to learning, like time and money, have been removed. These courses are easy to access and very reasonably priced, they are becoming more widely accepted by employers.

Never Stop Learning

Another option to keep you relevant in the marketplace is a professional program offered by a college, university or institute of technology that provides full-time employees an opportunity to add to their credentials by taking courses at night, or on-line. I’m currently enrolled in the Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching at Royal Roads which is a 7-month program – nine days are spent on campus, with the remining learning taking place on-line. I’m pursuing the coaching certification to keep my soft skills in communication sharp, to expand my professional network, and to build on my existing credentials with an internationally recognized coaching credential. It hasn’t been easy balancing work, family, academic and other responsibilities, but I see tremendous value in the energy I am investing in the program.

Wrapping up

There is along list of job titles that exist now that didn’t 10 years ago. If you are not making an effort to stay up to date with the rapidly evolving labour market landscape, it will be harder to keep up and be effective in your role, lead change in a data driven marketplace, and convince recruiters that you have the right stuff. The prevalence and ease of on-line learning platforms and professional programs removes all excuses, and all but guarantees that there is learning experience that fits with time and resources you have available.

Albert Einstein said, “The significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” Unless we keep pushing ourselves to continuously learn and apply our learning to new challenges, not only will we be unable to solve today’s problems, but we may also struggle to stay relevant in the decade ahead.


Published in PeopleTalk Article: Winter 2020

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