The Future of Jobs: Five responses to a changing employment market

20 October 2017 -

InterviewA new report says that managers must work closely with schools and colleges to prepare young people for work and avoid chronic skills shortages and low productivity in the future

Jermaine Haughton

The Future of Jobs report, published on 19 October by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), provides a stark and worrying outlook for employers about the UK labour market in the near future.

Among many findings, the REC study says that British employers must change the way they source, engage and nurture their workforce, starting with prioritising engagement with younger people.

The report suggests that employers must become a visible presence to young people, especially pre-teens and university students, helping them to identify their talents and skills, and giving them advice to better prepare them for work in the years to come.

In similar vein, in the 2016 An Age of Uncertainty report, CMI and the EY Foundation found that young people’s experience of the transition to work is inconsistent and often unsatisfactory. That report encouraged employers and schools collaborate to develop the School to Work programme to give young people fairer access to workplace opportunities and to improve their employability on leaving school. The Future of Jobs report says that initiatives such as The School to Work Framework are essential to building stronger connections between businesses and young people.  

Commenting on the Future of Jobs report, CMI’s Patrick Woodman said: "The workplace is set to be changed radically in the years ahead. Technology and automation will be disruptive and could replace many jobs. Yet at the same time, we will see the role of managers and leaders become even more important, because we will need to get the best from people. Managers will need to be creative, engaging and inspiring for their teams, build diverse workforces, and create a sense of purpose and shared values.

“That means we have to finally break free of the culture of the 'accidental manager', promoting people without providing training – and genuinely make lifelong learning a reality. Education can't stop at 18 or 21, it has to continue throughout life. Managers will need to not only refocus on their own professional development but on how they develop those around them to help them succeed.”

Many leading organisations are already making plans for this disrupted future, with businesses such as Diageo introducing a Futures Team, which is looking at societal changes and the implications such a future may have on hiring procedures. Similarly, Santander has introduced the role of Head of Future Work, while nPower has a director of opportunities to help the business appeal to prospective employees.

The solution to falling productivity

The new REC research predicts the UK’s labour market will continue to ‘hollow out’ with mid-skill jobs declining in many sectors, and automation on the rise. Meanwhile, Baby Boomers will further decline as a percentage of the workforce and be replaced with younger generations who place a higher value on flexibility, work-life balance and personal development.

Chair of the Future of Jobs commission Esther McVey MP said: "With the world of work undergoing seismic changes, we need to do more to support people on their journey from school to retirement. In particular, helping individuals develop the skills they need to capitalise on new opportunities must involve greater collaboration between business and schools.

“With the pace of change, there will be turbulent times ahead, but we want this report to fuel the debate about what the future world of work could and should look like."

The Future of Jobs: Five recommendations

Hirers should engage with schools, colleges and universities to provide real-world, practical advice and help young people be better prepared

Employers should be more creative with their recruitment procedures, offer flexible work as standard and remove barriers for underrepresented groups, eg by using collaborative hiring or name-blind recruitment

The government should create a new Employment and Skills Advisory Committee to review data and take evidence to help the government plan investments in training, and immigration policy

Policy-makers should ensure that all people can progress, making the apprenticeship levy into a broader training levy that benefits all workers

The government and British business need to find new ways of measuring the success of the UK jobs market, including progress on inclusion, social mobility, pay gaps and productivity

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