The New World of Learning & Workforce Implications

Marissa Levin
Marissa Levin
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Last month, I attended the quarterly Chief Learning Officers (CLO) breakfast led by CLO Media ( The panel and discussion centered around the changes occurring in the workforce, and the convergence of education, skills, and work. As someone who has a Master’s Degree in Instructional Systems Design/Curriculum Development, and as CEO of a company ( that provides education and training solutions to the market, I’ve always been interested in how social changes impact educational trends in the workforce.

Much of my information is from one of the best resources I have encountered on this topic: The Apollo Research Institute (

Next-Gen Careers Look Drastically Different Than Today’s Careers

Five trends are shifting the career landscape:

  1. Single firm careers are becoming obsolete. Employees that stay in one organization for their career are a thing of the past.
  2. Linear career paths have gone by the way side. No longer will employees come into an organization looking for a career ladder – and no longer will employers provide this. Instead employees will require (and seek out) cross-training in multiple disciplines, resulting in lateral or horizontal moves across an organization.
  3. Workforces may encompass 5 generations of workers. People are living longer, they want to stay active longer, and they will financially require income for a longer period of time. This will affect the types of learning that a company will need to provide.
  4. To stay employable, employees will need to stay relevant. Relevance to the workforce has never been more important. However, the responsibility to make this happen falls on both the employee and the employer.  Employees must take responsibility for their own learning outside of work. They must protect their own relevance. Next-gen careers will require planning and continuous education & skill-building.
  5. One of the most important employment criteria will be “personal meaning.”  Employees want to know there is meaning int he work – both personal meaning (tied to a cause they support), or meaning for the organizational mission (“how do I fit into the bigger picture?”) Personal meaning will drive employee engagement.

What Employers Say They Need – A National Snapshot

  • U.S. hiring managers say they need employees who can work independently, in teams, and in a multicultural environment.
  • In addition to relevant work experience, workers in most industries will require certifications, college, and advanced degrees.
  • For future careers, workers will need an increasingly complex and evolving skill set.

Higher Education Pays Off

On average, adding one year of schooling to all workers in a U.S. metropolitan area is estimated to increase the local GDP by 10.5% and each worker’s real wage by 8.36%. Washington, DC workers have the highest average schooling level in the nation.  Workers in DC complete an average of 14.58 years of schooling.

**A college graduate earns nearly $1 million more in a lifetime salary than a high school graduate.

Skills Gaps

While unemployment may be high, much of the problem is a result of a skills deficit. 

  • 3 million jobs may go unfilled by 2018 due to skills gaps
  • 45% of employers struggle to find workers with problem-solving skills
  • New nurses lack 20-33% of required technology skills
  • Managers say communication is the #1 skill for effective leadership – but hard to find.
  • 71% of employers say military personnel have better skills than civilians.

Next Steps for Workers and Employers

So what should workers and employers do to prepare?

Workers should do these three things:

  1. Become the CEO of your own career, with a vision and strategic plan.
  2. Regularly assess your relevance to current job openings to ensure your employability.
  3. Stay informed of requirements for your industry, and fill your education & skills gaps.

Employers should do these three things:

  1. Cultivate an education-driven culture so employees can take ownership of their career development.
  2. Communicate internal career advancement opportunities and requirements.
  3. Provide growth opportunities through special projects, lateral moves, or job rotations.

Other trends affecting the workforce are:

  • Globalization. A person can launch a global business (an eBay store) in an hour and become a global business.
  • Technology is driving all business productivity.
  • The talent war has never been more active. Sites such as and enable employers to find good talent at very low prices, and allow employees to find work in a virtual world.

All of these changes and trends affect the dynamic of the employer-employee relationship. It is much more of a peer-based relationship, rather than a hierarchical relationship. 

As you prepare for the workforce of tomorrow – either as an employer or employee – how ready are you?




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