With younger generational values clashing with aspects of the current workplace, severe skill shortages in STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] careers and a rapid transition to a more automated workplace, relevant education and learning for school-age children is increasingly becoming a major concern for businesses.
It is crucial that schools are properly preparing children for the future workplace through curriculum alignment to fundamental skills and jobs. However, there are fears from strategic leaders from some of the UK’s leading employers – including IBM, Weetabix and GroupM – that the curriculum is more aligned to school exam results and this is having a major impact on nurturing and developing future talent in the workplace.
A pioneering project called ‘The Future of the Workplace’, which is being led by talent solutions firm Broster Buchanan Talent Solutions, looks at the key challenges facing UK businesses today and their impact on future world of work. Advertising media firm GroupM, one of the employers involved in the project, which employs over 32,000 employees worldwide, is currently spearheading a scheme working with 12 and 13-year-old school children to introduce them to the workplace.
Small groups of schoolchildren from disadvantaged areas of London are invited to GroupM and asked to take part in challenges that aim to broaden their business knowledge – the objective being to open their minds to a world outside of their borough and encourage more informed decisions at school, which in turn will help on their career journey. The project has been extremely successful in leading to numerous work experience placements and internships.
Employers believe targeting children between the ages of 11 and 14 is key to influence, encourage and excite about potential career options, and also enable informed decision making when choosing between school subject and work experience options.
It is fundamentally clear that more needs to be done to link school learning with needs of the modern day workplace. By 2020 there will be five generations working together, which will be a juggling act for employers. Back-to-work schemes, apprenticeships and agile working are all under the spotlight, alongside alternative approaches to personal development. Younger generations are creating a culture of immediacy through use of multiple devices and agile technology, and this is leaking into the workplace.
Even traditional appraisal processes are being modernised. For example, technology giant IBM has a learning model that works in a similar way to Netflix, which the company is now rolling back into the onboarding process. This is in response to the needs of its employees; where consumer standards have shifted, employee expectations have also changed and the business is reacting to this.
It is crucial that UK businesses are continually learning, investing and adapting their methods of attracting new talent or there will be a serious risk to the growth of their business. Fifty per cent of the UK workforce are now millennials (with up to 70% in emerging markets), so many businesses are already behind the curve with this generation and are quickly needing to develop retention strategies in light of a rapidly evolving workforce where roles can become redundant through automation.
Upskilling and retraining the existing workforce is absolutely necessary and there is no doubt that employers will need to start earlier with influencing and nurturing home-grown talent. And to do this, they will need to go back to school.
Lenna Thompson is associate director, Broster Buchanan Talent Solutions. Broster Buchanan is holding a series of ‘The Future of the Workplace’ events. Click here for more information