Moving from 'lifetime employment' to 'lifetime employability'
Illustration: Anthea T
Articles - 4 min read
Published on August 28, 2021

Moving from 'lifetime employment' to 'lifetime employability'

Automation is no longer a thing of the future. Half of the activities handled by humans today can be powered by present-day technologies. What does that mean for our employability?

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Jillian Wong
Contributing Talent

 

Here’s the hard truth. There is no lifetime employment.

Before this dims your last ray of light in the wake of a pandemic-stricken workforce , there’s a saving grace: lifetime employability exists.

Lifetime employment is not the same as lifetime employability. In the days of the baby boomers, it was normal to work for the same employer throughout one’s career. In fact, it was encouraged for workers to find a job and stick with it till their retirement. Today, people no longer seek the certainty of a single employer. Fueled by the fact that AI and technology will increasingly replace repetitive jobs, the likelihood of lifetime employment seems even more obscure. In a recent ‘Future of Jobs Report’, the World Economic Forum estimates that 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines, while 97 million new roles may emerge across 26 countries by 2025. Half of all workers will require some form of upskilling or reskilling to prepare for the changing job landscape in the next five years. While it is heartening to know that there is an astounding number of new roles, unless we start paying attention to reinventing our skills, we will not have the adequate know-how to fit into the workforce of the future.

Lifetime Employability Versus Lifetime Employment

While employment is to work, employability refers to the skills and abilities that allows one to be employed. Employability has to be worked at. Lifetime employability needs action. It needs continual self-development in specific areas of knowledge, reskilling, upskilling, and in some cases, even necessitating a switch to a different career or branching out into multiple careers. Lifelong employability can best be described as the art of remaining employable for as long as one desires to be a part of the workforce; and it takes adaptability, grit and readiness for this journey.

Employment is to work. Employability has to be worked at.

Laying The Foundation For Lifetime Employability

Just what does it take to remain relevant and be employable in an evolving world powered by innovation, technology and increasing competition from AI and robots? Well, it takes two to clap. Lifetime employability requires efforts from both organizations and individuals to thrive. Here, we explore 3 key areas that will lay the foundation for achieving lifetime employability.

  • Change in mindset

 

We have to stop believing that there is an end age to retirement. As long as the mind and body is willing, an individual can still continue to work and engage in lifelong learning with gusto and passion. Many abled professionals, when approaching retirement age, realise that they have no desire to retire just yet. These groups of employees are valuable assets and their expertise can be leveraged to consulting or mentoring roles, should their organizations choose to. Individuals, young or old, need to ditch the dated model of lifetime employment and explore the career opportunities that can be found in flexible roles, contract work and the gig economy.

  • Learning is an investment, not an expense

 

When 97 million new roles come to the fore by 2025, are you and I ready to take on some of these jobs? The outcome is probably unlikely if we rest on our laurels and do nothing about our current set of skills. Upskilling and reskilling should be perceived as an investment and not as an expense. These newly created jobs will demand new skills and knowledge and the best time to start preparing for them is right now. The workforce is evolving and the only way to move forward is to start moving.

  • Normalize flexible career options

 

In the last couple of years, it would have been easy to assume that contingent workers have been forced into short-term gigs in response to an economic crisis or the recent Covid-19 pandemic. While that might hold some truth, the reality is that flexible career options are now trending. The economy of today is an on-demand economy and technological advances have accelerated this on-demand trait. Workers are choosing the path of non-traditional work for many other reasons - flexibility in terms of working hours or work arrangements, a want for more varied work, higher pay, more time to spend with family. The idea of being confined to a desk 8 hours a day for 5 work days is beginning to feel stifling to some. Flexible work arrangements such as remote working, flexible work days and hours, allowing employees to take sabbaticals or carving out part-time roles for both men and women in senior management roles are no longer termed as incentives, but viewed as normalcy. Organizations will need to take into consideration the preference for more flexible career paths as employees struggle with responsibilities both at work and at home. Simply asking employees what they want and how they want to be supported for their next phase in their career will give organizations an idea for crafting flexible work arrangements that will work for both company and individual.

Organizations that do not take steps to engage the changing workforce may risk losing their valued employees, be unable to attract new talents and, worse, put a halt to any opportunities for growth.

Lifelong employability is crucial for long-term survival for both individuals and organizations. Embracing the idea of lifelong employability will help organizations boost their talent quotient and ensure that workers remain relevant in an age that is characterized by a rise in automation. As the cost of smart machines fall over time and their capabilities increase, the question here for individuals is, are you at risk or are you prepared?

You may also be interested in this: Why Multiple Careers Are Empowering And What This Means For Organizations

You may also like to browse through our e-shop for some ‘conversation-starter’ tees when you next return to the office.

 

There’s a better way to grow. And it’s not the traditional way.

It’s about rethinking traditional employment archetypes. Can we progress from an economy built on full time employment habitually enslaved by unemployment fears, to one where individuals have greater autonomy and are self motivated to do work that inspires them? And as a result,  benefit the economy as a whole?

You can’t own full time employees. But you can build a winning team with talent management companies. As businesses demand more, external talents are emerging as the sure forerunners of an agile workforce. At Chance Upon, we partner businesses to get a head start over competition by creating collaborative work between companies and the right talents.

Hire anytime, hire anywhere. Hire exceptional.

References

Troy Pospisil, Robots Aren't Taking Over The World (Yet) — Artificial Plus Human Intelligence Is Still The Best Combo, Forbes, (28 Apr 2021)

The Future of Jobs Report 2020, World Economic Forum, (20 Oct 2020)

Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, How Companies Can Meet the Needs of a Changing Workforce, Harvard Business Review, (18 Dec 2020)

Beth Davies, Connor Diemand-Yauman, and Nick van Dam, Competitive advantage with a human dimension: From lifelong learning to lifelong employability, McKinsey & Company, (7 Feb 2019)

multiple careers
future of work
lifetime employability
employment
winning in life
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