In this time of disruption and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, when many career services practitioners are working from locations outside the office, it is crucial for them to stay connected.
The expression VUCA has been around for decades. And yet, it’s as relevant today in business as it was when first introduced in the 1980s by the US military. VUCA — which stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity — describes an unpredictable workplace characterized by constant flux, unknowns and unknowables. It’s the new normal facing most leaders today.
It’s also the new normal facing most employees, who struggle daily to navigate the murkiness to deliver business results. But the murkiness doesn’t stop there.
It extends into our relationship with career development, a feature of the business landscape that in many organizations has remained frozen in time and unresponsive to contemporary organizational realities.
Today’s VUCA workplace demands VUCA career development — an approach to growth that’s:
VUCA career development, while sounding daunting, actually boils down to small adjustments to the mindsets and behaviours of employees and leaders. Five shifts that can easily be incorporated into existing processes — and can lead to dramatically enhanced results — follow.
1. Habitualized reflection
The “one and done” career-planning approach from the past is insufficiently agile to accommodate today’s workplace. Employees must lead the way by developing the capacity for, and commitment to, constantly deepening their self-awareness. They must routinely challenge their understanding of themselves, their strengths, opportunities, interests and values. They must make it a conscious practice to consider more critically the world around them. This means intentionally prioritizing until they become habits such mental processes as connecting the dots among events, extracting lessons from challenges and failure, and updating their understanding of the unique value proposition they have to offer.
2. Ongoing conversation
As employees deepen their self-awareness and develop the reflection habit, it becomes incumbent upon leaders to tap this reservoir of information and insight. And this happens through conversation, but not the once-a-year organizationally-prescribed meeting. While that can be important, it can also become stale within weeks or months. What’s required is an ongoing dialogue, slipped right into the workflow and routine interactions. Short conversations about the employee, what’s going on in the organization and even broader industry and strategic trends offers tremendous benefits. It keeps career-development thinking fresh, is motivational and generates a deeper bond and greater loyalty between employees and leaders.
3. Pencilled possibility planning
VUCA development is flexible, adaptable and fluid. As a result, career-development plans can no longer be cast in concrete with the expectation of an annual lifespan. Employees need to play out multiple possibilities concurrently, holding each lightly and being willing to change as necessary. Scenario planning is the name of the game. They need to mine the overlap among possible ways forward for highest-impact actions. And, they need to go where they’ve got energy and where there are greater chances for growth-related traction.
4. Commitment to high-impact actions
In days gone by, the output of a career-development plan was a highly structured game plan with prescribed steps and structured schedules. Not any longer! What’s required to respond to today’s changeable conditions is something nimbler and more iterative. Formal development opportunities like workshops, webinars and e-learning may not be flexible enough to meet turn-on-a-dime needs. As a result, employees and leaders may want to lean more heavily into informal or unstructured learning (which includes development experiences, mentoring, visibility, and networking) to offer spot or targeted high-impact actions that work within the employee’s (versus the organization’s) timeline.
5. Routine recognition and reinforcement
Let’s face it. Fitting development into already bursting-at-the-seams workloads can be challenging. It’s easy for employees to let their growth and learning take a backseat to more urgent concerns. That’s where leaders can play a valuable role. Catching people acting on their developmental intentions is inspiring. Acknowledging the acquisition of new skills or experiences is uplifting. Offering feedback, coaching or ideas on one’s efforts to expand capacity and contribution is motivating. When leaders do these things – when they pick up on cues and make recognition and reinforcement part of their cadence – they can accomplish all of this and more.
Careers exist in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment; but career development doesn’t have to be fall victim to these challenging conditions. In fact, these characteristics can actually offer tremendous opportunity for employees and leaders who are willing to make the process more versatile, uplifting, choice-filled and active by embracing these five shifts.
The following article by Chris Jeffries, CEO at Dev Clever was published in FE News.
The argument that students must be helped to enter the correct career from the outset extends beyond personal success; 12 million people could be caught in a skills gap by 2024.
This would come as a result of millions of low-skilled workers entering a job market with numerous high-skilled jobs available and a lack of people qualified to fill them.
This skills crisis could result in £90bn of economic growth being lost, making it vital that we ensure students are entering the best possible careers in the first instance, and are aware of what skills will be required.
For this, we need improved careers advice in schools.
For the vast majority, careers advice at present remains woefully inadequate. Most advice still provides little to no structure or guidance, but instead relies on students making decisions based on their own limited encounters of adult professions.
This is frequently supplemented by basic advice from a ‘career councillor’, limited careers tests, and snippets of advice from parental figures and/or teachers- none of which takes into account elements of a student’s personality or skillsets.
In addition, careers advice at home is beset with further obstacles; over a third of parents are scared of providing the wrong advice to their child, with half worrying that their understanding of the current career environment may hinder their child’s future.
Moreover, relying on family figures to deliver careers guidance means socio-economic background continues to play a major role in impacting children’s careers; a recent report from the OECD international economics thinktank found that by the age of seven children are already facing limits on their future work aspirations.
Most of 2030’s Jobs Haven’t Been Invented Yet
Compounding the fraught issue of careers guidance, the rapid advancement of technology and the speed of change facilitated by this means that up to 85 percent of the jobs that today’s college students will have in 11 years haven’t yet been invented. This means that the skillsets required for different careers are changing rapidly, as is the job market itself.
While the Government plans to place more available resources into primary and secondary schools, giving them the means to reach the mandated criteria of achieving the GATSBY benchmarks by the end of 2020, more change is still required to improve careers advice in schools.
Today’s students have been raised surrounded by digital experiences in every area of life, from entertainment platforms like Netflix to social media such as Instagram, and music platforms like Spotify. Students consequently expect better uses of tech in all aspects of their education – so why should careers advice be exempt from this?
Gamification boosts engagement
Gamification is everywhere too; from learning a language to brushing your teeth, gamification has been seen to help engage users more effectively. In 2018, for example, 85% of people said they’d spend more time on an app or software because of gamification elements.
Consequently, schools must take advantage of new technologies to bring gamification elements into careers advice and utilise tech to create immersive careers guidance experiences for their students. It is more important than ever that parents and schools are provided with the tools and technology to better guide and encourage children to make good decisions on next steps towards their futures.
Some success is already being seen, with a number of schools across the country now using VICTARand Launchpad, a fully immersive virtual reality experience that guides students of all ages through the decision-making process.
Personality-driven careers guidance and #VR to ensure students have greater access to innovative careers guidance: Dev Clever and Lenovo partner to bring personality-driven careers guidance and VR to schools Dev Clever, a leading developer of careers… http://dlvr.it/RDxyxq
Based on the Myers-Briggs indicators, it goes through different questions to understand the student’s personality traits and then matches those traits to an appropriate career choice. From there, pupils can access Launchpad, an online platform supported by credible resources to learn more about the career matched to them.
The platform helps them to understand salary bands, career progression and what course to take to get them into their chosen career— whether that’s an apprenticeship or a particular course at university.
Such an immersive experience also serves to remove pressures from the environment around the student, such as fearing being incorrect in front of peers or the teacher. It permits students to be more honest about their personality and interests, thereby assisting the student in making a more accurate decision about their preferred career path.
Technology is transforming industries at speed, revolutionising the way we live our day-to-day lives. Education is no exception, with innovation being seen through the development of recorded lessons, the introduction of laptops and tablets to schools, and the use of interactive whiteboards – but it’s time that careers advice itself embraced such innovation.
If the younger generation are to prepare themselves for the jobs of tomorrow, we must give them the tools to reach their goals.
As a UK General Election date has been announced no doubt some MP’s will lose their seat – and as a result will be looking for a new career. The following explains what support is available to their Canadian colleagues.
When Liberal Mark Holland lost his seat in 2011, he couldn’t get out of bed for days.
“It was absolutely devastating for me … Because it was my hometown, it felt personal. It felt like a personal rejection,” said the Ajax MP, who went on to be re-elected in 2015 and again on Monday.
“It’s like being in a car going 100 kilometres an hour and hitting a brick wall and everything stops.”
He credits the House of Commons’s transition program with helping him move on from his defeat. The program offers counselling and up to $15,000 to help defeated MPs transition from the House of Commons back to the civilian world.
It’s a program the nearly 50 incumbents who lost on Monday can access as they take stock of their defeats.
The taxpayer-funded package can be used to cover the cost of career transition services, job training or post-secondary education and some travel expenses, according to the members’ allowances and services manual.
Holland was first elected at the municipal level at age 23. He said he leaned on the transition program to dust off his resumé and get some retraining before eventually landing a job at the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
“Having a service that helps folks make the transition back to a normal life — helps them get their resumé in shape, makes sure that their mental health is in a strong position and that they have the support they need to get reintegrated — is incredibly important,” he said.
For former MPs seeking career advice, the House of Commons offers the services of a third-party firm that provides one-on-one career coaching. MPs can use another career counselling firm as long as it’s cleared in advance.
In order to qualify for the transition fund, career transition programs have be started within 12 months of the general election. The fund also requires that ex-MPs submit certificates for career transition programs.
Defeated incumbents can also use the program’s cash to go back to school in Canada.
The MP handbook stipulates that, in order to qualify for transition program funding, ex-MPs must prove the training or education they’re seeking is in a field related to the work they intend to pursue. The institution also must be required by contract to provide on-the-job instruction, tutoring, training or supervision.
The manual lists teaching, law, accounting, engineering and the trades as examples of skills that could be subsidized.
As with the career transition programs, training programs have to start within 12 months of the end of the general election to qualify for funding, and proof of completion is required.
The money also can be used for travel. Members who are not re-elected are entitled to up to four economy-class round trips within Canada if they can prove they’re travelling to and from job interviews, education sessions or career transition sessions, or if they need to travel to Ottawa to sell their homes.
Transition program funds can also be used to pay for sundry services such as long-distance phone calls within Canada, stationery and office supplies, but the program requires receipts.
MPs often leave private-sector gigs
Holland says sceptics who baulk at the program’s price tag need to understand the sacrifice most MPs make by leaving promising careers to run for office.
“I think that nobody understands the pressures of somebody who steps forward and offers themselves to public service,” he said.
“Regardless of the partisan stripe, I have enormous regard for people who put themselves in that position and I think that it makes only good sense to make sure that they transition back to public life.”
MPs who do not seek re-election are also entitled to up to $15,000 in transition support to help re-establish themselves after leaving politics.
The money comes out of the House of Commons administration central budget.
WorldSkills UK and Youth Employment UK have published a new digital Careers Advice Toolkit. The comprehensive guide supports young people with employability and careers information they need for their futures.
There are 19 lesson plans in total, covering Key Stage 3 and 4 all mapped against the Careers Development Institute and Gatsby Benchmark Frameworks.
Learners will be coached through their career journey, helped to identify their own motivators and skills, understand their career options and also the developmental tools and pathways available to them.
The lessons can be delivered as bitesize pieces of content or as a whole career curriculum with video’s, quizzes and engaging activities to support the learner along their career journey.
It’s completely free to use. To access the Careers Advice Toolkit you need to complete a form giving your details – it can be accessed using the link below.
The following is by Emma Finamore, Editor, AllAboutSchoolLeavers.co.uk
During GCSE results day 2019, some figures in business made it clear they want to see more 16-year-olds making the move to apprenticeships rather than A-levels.
“We need to see more young people choosing vocational pathways,” said Andrea Bull, head next generation marketing at Make UK, in a statement hoping to encourage those awaiting GCSE results to consider apprenticeship programmes.
Mike Cherry, national chairman of The Federation of Small Businesses, also highlighted how remaining on the purely academic route isn’t right for all GCSE students, saying:
“Each year pupils will make critical decisions about how they intend to further their education, which for some will mean going onto study A-levels. But while that may suit some pupils entering Sixth Form, it doesn’t help others who may thrive far better elsewhere.”
There was also plenty of talk of the increasing exam pressure young people face, further making the case that for many, moving to a different form of education and training would be beneficial rather than staying on the ‘classrooms and exams’ track of A-levels.
The National Education Union, for example, polled more than 600 members who taught GCSE subjects in England. More than seven out of 10 said their students’ mental health had worsened since new exams were introduced.
The Girlguiding charity reveal the results of its 2019 Girls’ Attitudes Surveyon the eve of GCSE results day. It showed that the majority of girls worry poor exam grades will ruin their future opportunities in life. More than half of girls (52%) say exam pressures affect how happy they are, yet four in five say they don’t get the support they need to manage exam-related stress.
Meanwhile, Childline revealed there were 1,141 counselling sessions delivered to children and teenagers in 2018 to 2019, an increasing by more than 50% since 2014 to 2015 – a fifth of these therapy sessions took place in August, when students receive GCSE and A-level results.
Megan, 17, a spokesperson for Girlguiding, said:
“I know this feeling all too well; I sat my GCSEs last year and I spiralled under the stress. I would often cry myself to sleep, choosing between showering or taking another practice test for physics.”
Despite the difficulty many young people experience under an exam-based system like GCSEs, and the need for more 16-year-olds to take up apprenticeships, the majority of those going on to take Level 3 qualifications (about three in five) are doing so via A-levels rather than moving on to a different form of training and education.
To see a genuine shift in careers advice, everyone needs to be on board
In the whole of the Guardian’slive report of GCSE results day, for example, there was just one mention of a 16-year-old school leaver going on to an apprenticeship.
This anecdotal reporting plays out in the statistics too. While 82% more people aged 25 and above are now doing higher-level apprenticeships at Level 4 and above, apprenticeship starts for 16- to-18-year-olds continue to fall, and Level 2 starts (one of the key levels for those leaving school after GCSEs) have dropped by more than 50% since the apprenticeship reforms were introduced in May 2017.
It seems doubtful – given the stress and angst the system clearly causes for many – that 16-year-olds are so excited about another two years of classroom learning and exams they won’t consider any other option.
What seems more likely is that the people who matter – parents, schools and employers – aren’t promoting apprenticeships as a post-GCSE option as best they could.
This could start earlier in the classroom:Talking about GCSE results as a potential bridge to Level 2 and 3 apprenticeships as well as A-levels and jobs from the word go, rather than later in the process; explaining how a Level 2 apprenticeship could now lead to Levels 3, 4 and above, all with a salary; the job prospects and employability of apprentices (with their hands-on work experience) compared to young people who only have exam results under their belts.
Teachers could be promoting the advantages of Level 2 and 3 apprenticeships to parents too, again early on in their children’s education, and presented as an equal to the option of A-levels. But they can only do this if they’re sufficiently knowledgeable about these advantages, and about the range of Level 2 and 3 apprenticeships on offer.
Employers could help them – and help themselves secure the interest of students considering leaving school after GCSEs – do this by engaging with schools earlier.
The School Leaver Conference is just one way that employers and education professionals can come together to improve their knowledge and awareness of the early careers landscape, and foster new relationships and existing partnerships. If we want more young people to see the value of options other than A-levels, we must try harder.
“Asking clients what do you want is in many ways the wrong question,” Sheena Iyengar, a Columbia Business School professor and author of The Art of Choosing, said at the Indeed Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, this May. “You get a bazillion options.”
There are far better queries that can be made when trying to choose a career path, according to Iyengar’s research. Here are three questions to ponder in order to help clients select the profession that’s right for them, whether they’re preparing to enter the workforce for the first time or mulling a career change.
Oprah threw out some serious wisdom to the 2018 class at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism’s recent commencement ceremony
She started off her address to the world’s future writers, journalists, reporters, and speakers with the bad news: A lot’s going on in the world, and it’s not all great. The good news, she joked: “Many of your parents are probably taking you somewhere special for dinner tonight.”
Of course, the real good news she had for everyone in the audience was that “there really is a solution” to all our problems, and the solution is “each and every one of you.” (What else would you expect from the woman who, off-handedly, mentioned she’s been speaking to audiences for 25 years, ran the highest-rated daytime talk show, and has never missed a day of work in her life out of 4,561 episodes.)
But the meat of her speech—the part that had me thinking about my own career—was about old lessons becoming new again. Read more
A new report from the 5% Club calls for a bigger role for work experience in schools and colleges. By George Ryan
Improving the quality of work experience and careers advice in schools and colleges is critical to enabling social mobility, a new report states.
The 5% Club is a membership organisation of employers committed to increasing the number of “earn and learn” skills training opportunities, including apprenticeships. In its new Playing to our strengths: Unlocking social mobility for economic good report, the organisation sets out a number of measures it believes would increase social mobility in the UK through changes to the skills system. Here is a summary of their recommendations:
1. Links between schools, colleges and employers need strengthening
Employers should develop strong links with schools and colleges in deprived areas and increase the access young people in those areas have to workplaces, mentors and work experience.
The following article is by Melanie Curtin, writer and activist whose work has been featured in the Huffington Post, the New York Observer and on the Today Show in Australia. She holds a master’s in communication from Stanford University.
Richard Branson is a force of nature.
In addition to being an actual knight, he is the founder of the Virgin Group, which now controls more than 400 companies. His net worth is $5 billion, which puts him seventh on a list of the wealthiest British billionaires. Plus, he’s known for being a compassionate boss and an icon of entrepreneurship.
He wasn’t always that successful, though.
As a boy, he struggled with dyslexia. In a blog on the subject, he wrote a letter to his younger self, saying:
“I know you’re struggling at school and I wanted to give you some advice on how to become the best you can be, even when it’s difficult and you feel like the world is against you. You should never see being different as a flaw or think that something is wrong with you. Being different is your biggest asset and will help you succeed.”
Embrace his difference he did. As a teenager, he named his company “Virgin” because he lacked real experience in business.He’s not a virgin anymore.But no one is an island (even if they own a private one). The fact is, the mentors and influences we have growing up have a profound influence on who we become. And Richard Branson had a major advantage in that department: his mother, Eve.Eve Branson was just as much of a force of nature as little Ricky.
For example, once, on the way home from a shopping trip, Branson’s mother left him alone in the countryside. She gave him basic instructions on how to find his own way home, then left.He was 5 years old. In his words:
“[It was] about three miles through the countryside [to get home]…. She was punishing me for causing mischief in the back seat, but she was also teaching me a larger lesson about overcoming my disabling shyness and learning to ask others for directions.”
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