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The future of career paths

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The future of career paths

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I’ve been asked by a client to pull together a session looking at the future of career paths and career planning towards the end of the year. It’s an interesting assignment, and a theme in which I’ve made fairly significant experimental investments in the past few years (often to my wife’s considerable consternation).

Undoubtedly “working out loud” is one of the themes that I’ll be thinking about; building one’s network another. It made sense, then, to kick off the work by asking my network for their views rather than focusing merely on my own preoccupations.

What are the major trends that are impacting how we should plan our careers? There were some interesting points of view.

Environmental themes were the first to emerge.  @ChrisWeston pointed to the Low Carbon economy, and how that would be the biggest trend to impact the nature of work in the years ahead (and hence our careers). Cycling nut @mchillingworth got much more specific saying he’d never contemplate work that involved having to commute by car (having done that myself on and off over the past decade, I get where he is coming from – even in the era of the podcast, driving is dead, unproductive time.

@MarkWilsonIT also banged on the cycling drum, and tied it in to other issues of work/life balance in the concept of “downshifting” (at least I’m assuming that’s what he meant, rather than some complex cycling term!). @SoulSailor also picked up on the flexibility of work patterns identifying part time versus full time employment and balancing between one or many organisation with whom one works at any given time.

Entrepreneur @MMaryMcKenna took more of an employer’s view, and commented that even when bringing in junior people she’s looking for folk who can bring a network with them, taking precedent over merely fitting a CV to a role specification. @BenFletch noted that if you only bring in people who already have the right experience, it’s always going to be a sideways move (and by definition are you therefore opting out of employing ambitious people?).

The final macro economic trend that was highlighted was the changing (and ageing) demographic in the UK. @MilicaGay noted that an older, longer working population would have more opportunity to make career changes, and that with more access to information these days we can be more informed about what our options might be. I’ve had flashbacks to careers guidance in the 1980s at school from that comment, and it’s scary how uninformed I was when I was starting out. @JoiningDots saw the demographic changes leading to new opportunities, and @DamianCorbet wondered if GenZ and Millennials would have an impact on the world of work because of their different expectations (although a few folk, including @IndaloGenesis contested whether it was an age thing or a mindset thing).

The final thread of conversation was whether the idea of career “plans” itself was now redundant… a question posed by @AustenHunter in light of the “age of complexity”. As @AranRees put it, “plan is perhaps the wrong word now. In a complex system a methodology enabling rapid learning and change is key.”

Some of the topics that came up were bouncing around my head – others were directions that I just hadn’t considered. That’s the great thing about being able to call on one’s network! You can see the full threads here and here, and I’ll be coming back to this theme in the next few weeks. Thanks to Chris, Mark, Mary, Ant, Ben, Milica, Sharon, Damian, Richard, Austen, and Aran for sharing their thoughts.

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