The Changing Landscape of Work

It is on the news, in magazines and books and in workshop sessions at conferences. Everyone from the Federal Reserve to you and your colleagues are paying more attention to the changing landscape of work. Many of these thinkers and doers are responding to fears that machines will continue to replace humans in performing an increasing number of tasks. But now other voices are coming forward to point out the opportunities that exist for people with the skills needed in the 21st century.

Some of the changes have been with us for years. For instance, I remember when ATMs began to replace the need to visit bank tellers, and more recently, when self-checkout lanes started appearing in grocery stores. With the exception of jobs that can only be performed through manual labor, including some skilled labor (electricians, plumbers, roofers) and some less skilled labor, such as landscaping and janitorial work, just about every job has been and continues to be modified and often enhanced by the introduction of technology.

As machines become integrated into the workplace, those who work alongside them need more skills to operate them or use the data they produce. Brawn is needed less and brains more, even for entry-level positions. For instance, I was recently told that entry-level manufacturing jobs require ninth-grade math skills, basic computer skills, the ability to read blueprints, and technical reading and writing skills.

GoodwillÂź is at the forefront of answering this challenge and embracing the opportunities created for the people we serve.

We are talking to the businesses in our communities to understand their skill needs and tailor our training and support programs for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

We are increasingly focused on education and training to equip job seekers for career pathways, not just their first job. This includes 25 GoodGuides youth mentoring programs, adult high schools like the Excel Centers launched by Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana (Indianapolis) and branching out in Austin and Washington, D.C., and the dozens of Goodwill partnerships with community colleges that are resulting in successful completion of industry-recognized credentials.

Goodwill also recently relaunched its career navigation website, GoodProspects¼   (www.goodprospects.org),  which helps individuals find jobs, prepare for careers and connect with mentors who can answer questions about specific industries.  Designed to complement Goodwill’s in-person career services to give individuals a competitive edge, the website profiles 11 high-growth career industries to maximize success in a demand-driven job market. Job seekers get information about careers that pay well and have high growth potential. GoodProspects’ registered users can also communicate with each other through the site’s industry-focused message boards, where users can share career resources, and ask and answer questions.

Some of the most effective ways to adapt to the changing landscape of work include:

  • Focusing on employer skill demand and internal career pathways.
  • Building upon the competencies job seekers already have.
  • Understanding the competencies within different job categories and building training programs that help trainees demonstrate them.
  • Instilling the concepts of readiness to learn, reskill and upskill into job readiness programs.
  • Focusing on soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, decision making, flexibility, curiosity and openness to new experiences.
  • Introducing microenterprise into training to enable job seekers to be independent contractors. Up to 45 percent of all workers will be independent contractors by 2025.

This month, Goodwill organizations around the United States and Canada will continue to ensure that opportunities are available to those we serve by hosting career fairs as part of Goodwill Industries Week.

Click here for more information about Goodwill Industries Week and to find career fairs near you.