The Search for the “future skills” of tomorrow

A friend of mine is a Senior Systems Analyst for a major software company but he leads the majority of people he knows to think he works in Finance.  The reason?  When his family and friends thought he worked in IT he was the first port of call for everything regarding tech, from upgrading virus protection on their home computer to reprogramming the remote control for his parent’s tv.  While I am led to believe this is a common occurrence among ICT professionals, the recruitment industry has spawned its equivalent.

‘What are The jobs of the future?  The future of Work?  Managing millennials, the Gig Economy…  Colleagues, friends, and family are now more frequently reaching out to the recruiters in their lives seeking advice on employability, what skills and roles are critical to the future of work and how to prepare for an ever-changing workplace.

Chief Awesome Officer, Chief Crayon Officer, Cyber Security Pen Tester, Director of First Impressions, Digital Evangelist, Blockchain Engineer- these are all positions we have come across over the past 12 months and while some are new positions others are more conventional roles, nicely repackaged, we are working every day to understand the former by improving the latter.

The rate of change and technological advancement in the work and business place has never been as fast. Competition in business has never been as never been as fierce and the war for talent is real again.  The paradox Osborne have been faced with more recently is how do we help our clients and candidates prepare for the jobs market of the future and hire for these skillsets that will be required.  How can employers hire for these skills when they don’t know what these skills are going to be??

It is estimated that 65% of the jobs that our current primary school children will undertake not only don’t exist but aren’t even on our current radar! The only surety in this uncertain world is that this trend is going to continue.

We are bombarded with new titles every day in the world of recruitment and sometimes there are blurred lines between traditional job titles repackaged and new skills and requirements which mightn’t have existed 20 years ago.

One of the secrets to sustainability and growth for the future lies in our flexibility and ability to adapt to change and continuous learning.  What we have seen in the most successful organisations is encouraging this development among your team needn’t be a highly costly venture featuring offsite 36-month courses, rather fostering a culture of internal improvement projects can yield equally strong results.  Encouraging your staff to challenge themselves in new areas, internally has multiple benefits.

We in Osborne have been working hard with clients and candidates to arm them with tools, tactics, and strategies to have onboarded this talent before the needs arise.  How are we effectively working with companies to tackle what former Secretary Rumsfeld memorably deemed the Unknown Unknowns?  By partnering with firms to hire candidates who have demonstrated the ability to be flexible, work cross functions, learn skills and ultimately engage in life long learning.  This can all be summarised by being zealous in enforcing the maxim- hire for fit, train for skills. But how can candidates demonstrate this flexibility, this propensity to learn?

Some of the most talented senior staff we have worked with gained their experience in completely unrelated fields from which they currently excel.  They demonstrated their leadership capabilities in a number of ways cutting their teeth in companies of all sizes. We have worked with managers who perceived themselves have having reached their peak in their current organisation but were frustrated that external opportunities were being stymied by their employer, the feedback given ‘too narrow experience’ ‘limited industry experience’ etc.  Rather than look externally for ways to bridge this gap they looked at their current workplace and remit and examined how they could improve their skills where they were. By participating in, and often instigating, cross-functional projects we have seen accountants massively improve their digital marketing comprehension, In-House Lawyers improve their Customer Service skills etc.  The benefits of this for employers are also significant, not only in achieving improvements in operations by adopting these process improvement changes but they are also left with a more engaged, learned and motivated colleague.

This approach to Learning and Development needs to be not just personal L&D but L&D for your whole team and business to ensure opportunities are spotted and evolutionary improvements become ingrained.

Embracing this ethos of continuous learning and improvement to prepare for the workplace of the future has worked well internally in Osborne.  Since the instigation of our ‘Love to Learn’ program, we have invested significantly in training in all functions and job types across our business.  This has also resulted in our revenue quadrupling and achieving significant strategic growth to date.  New, successful initiatives have come from across the entire organisation, not just the leadership team and moreover, have discovered some hidden talents among our wider team.