RESPONSIBILITY FOR ADAPTATION TO THE FUTURE OF WORK
Another major trend with respect to the future of work, which was discussed in 16 of the 32 reports reviewed (50%), centers around the responsibility for adaptation. As the notions of re-skilling and up-skilling (or acquiring or updating skills) become more widely accepted as a requirement for the future of work, there is increasing pressure on workers to continue to update their skills. However, humans are not software, and updating requires intensive time and financial resources.
This required adaptation to the future of work has become a burden to workers. The Public Policy Forum (PPF) Key Issues Series released a report titled “Skills, Training and Lifelong Learning” (2019). In this report, they cited that less than one-third of Canadians receive job-related education, training, or development. Therefore, the responsibility for re-skilling and up-skilling largely falls on workers to seek, pay for, and make time for formal educational opportunities. This is not to say that a reliance on formal education systems to produce work-ready graduates does not exist. It most certainly does. However, the pace of change is so rapid that continuous learning beyond formal post-secondary education has become a necessity.
This responsibility shouldered by individual workers needs to be shared by governments, educational institutions, and organizations by means of collaborative efforts to help ease this transition. Employers will need to offer opportunities for job-related training and development to their employees, either in-house or at formal institutions. Governments will need to offer subsidies for professional and skill development opportunities and address issues of inequity with respect to educational attainment. Finally, educational institutions will need to play a large role in developing a talent pipeline that embraces the idea of lifelong learning and is ready for the demands of the future of work. This may come in the form of intentional curriculum development, but also in increasing WIL opportunities and accompanying reflective components for students to develop complementary skills to those they are developing in the classroom. WIL students typically develop self-direction, initiative and agency all towards building their own responsibility to adapting to workplaces and are thus ready for the adaptations required for the future of work. Reflection, which is strongly encouraged in WIL, begins the process of self-assessment and discovery which are key to ongoing adaptation, openness to learning, and ultimately lifelong learning. Early exposure to professionals in their desired fields will also emphasize the importance of a lifelong learning mindset for students. Additionally, the presence of WIL students in workplaces may motivate existing employees to up-skill or re-skill34. Educational institutions may also be interested in applying the WIL model or curriculum to develop micro-credential programs, catered towards graduates and individuals in mid-late stages of their careers who are seeking additional learning opportunities.
As the notions of re-skilling and up-skilling (or acquiring or updating skills) become more widely accepted as a requirement for the future of work, there is increasing pressure on workers to continue to update their skills.