Work Realities: Even Young People Worry They’re Not Relevant

Work Realities: Even Young People Worry They’re Not Relevant


The world is changing so rapidly and technology is advancing at such a quick pace that even students and young workers are concerned about being relevant in the new world of work. They wonder whether the skills they are currently being taught are going to be useful in helping them get and maintain the jobs they want.

They wonder about learning

In an article in ChannelNewsAsia, a group of 19 to 35 year old discussed their place in the new world of work. Participant Tan Shuo Yan wondered “How do we make sure that we provide a certain level of value add to employers…” Yan, a project manager at a start-up, felt that the future of work very much reflects that future of learning. He said “…this comes with employers having to be more open to unconventional ways of certification, whether it’s taking a course on Coursera or going out for a vocational attachment, employers accept that there are different forms of learning, so that youths like me have more avenues to prove that they know how to do the job.”

Are companies opening up to certificates?

In my very informal polls of students and fellow HR professionals I am not finding that companies are yet accepting Coursera certificates as substitutes for degrees, regardless of how relevant the certificate may be to the job that is being performed. At least with American companies, a degree, regardless of how relevant, still holds more cache than being educated through online courses. I think we may be in a transition period where a degree obtained through online education may be accepted now, where it would not have been five years ago. But I don’t think someone that presents a “stack” of certificates will yet be given serious consideration.

A question for employers

So employers, how do young people today, who are breaking into the world of work, show to you that they are relevant? How do they demonstrate they have learned? How do they demonstrate to you that they are capable of learning? How much are you willing to participate in their learning?

I think there is a major disconnect between youth and companies and it is centered around just the thing they are concerned about: learning and being relevant. Companies need to teach the needed skillsets to the people who are going to be doing the work. They can’t learn everything through traditional means and employers are not as accepting of non-traditional means such as MOOCs. If companies accepted the responsibility for training future workers we would solve much of the ”skills shortage” problem we face.

Just be aware that younger workers are interested in learning. They are concerned with being relevant. Employers have the solution.

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Mike Haberman

Michael (Mike) D. Haberman, SPHR is a consultant, speaker, writer of HR Observations, and co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. After over 30 years in HR he got tired of the past and focuses here on the Future of HR. Connect with Mike.


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