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The Workplace of the Future [Career College Association]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Career College Association
January 2008

In the decades to come, more people are likely to take their careers into their own hands and use career colleges to help them get where they want to go, forecasts futurist Andy Hines of the D.C.-based research and consulting firm Social Technologies.

The reason: the type of person entering the workforce is changing.

“People joining the workforce today, what we call Generation Y, are clever about doing what it takes to land the kind of job they want,” he says. “Yes, money is important to them for they are a practical lot and need to pay the bills. But I equally important to them is the need to find interesting work that is fulfilling and beneficial to the world.”

In fact, Hines recently completed a study for MTV entitled: “The Future of Youth Happiness: What Makes 12-24-year-olds Happy?” Along with researchers from MTV, Hines’ team of futurists talked to dozens of youths about what makes them happy today, and what they believe will do so in the future.

“It was interesting to see that for the first time in decades, if not in history, being happy is incredibly important to a generation of people,” says Hines, who points to findings that show 91 percent of youths polled said they would take control of their happiness (81 percent have career / work goals, and 64 percent plan to go on to college).

They also saw few obstacles in their pursuit of happiness that they will not be able to overcome. Another shift: When it comes to money, GenY sees their salary more as a means rather than an end.

“Relative wealth and status are important, but not absolute,” Hines notes. “Although 69 percent of the youths we polled said they want to be rich, 51 percent say it is not at all likely that they will actually be rich.”

This finding is a real change in generational behavior, he suggests.

“The generations before them believed working hard to achieve money and status was the ultimate goal,” Hines explains. “But the generation growing up in America today has a new set of priorities.”

As a result, he believes, the workforce of the future will
behave differently than the workforce today:

“Creativity will be valued more and as technology continues to evolve more ‘knowledge workers’ will be required to fill jobs. These talented people will want to work with other talented people, and although money will be important it will become less of a differentiator. Instead, people will look for the opportunity to work with others they can learn from and successfully collaborate with.”

Other coming shifts will include:

Social networks: The concept of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” will become even more true in the coming decade as social networks proliferate, Hines says. “Forget finding a job through ‘Fortune Magazine’s Top 100 Employers to Work For.’ Companies beneath the radar, those that have a buzz with people on MySpace, will be the ones job seekers will want.”

The balance of power: “You know those job fairs where the potential employer stands on one side of the table and job seekers race up to drop off their resumes?” asks Hines. “That will likely be a thing of the past.” Instead, he says, those with the talent will have the power. “I foresee the students sitting at the tables and employers walking around hoping to get to some face time with them.”

Free agent nation: The concept of lifelong employment is already becoming a thing of the past. In the future, more employees and employers will embrace that reality, Hines believes. “We’ll start to see the move towards project-based contracts where managers will realize that people come in and help out the company for a few years, then renegotiate. More people will be signing two-year contracts, just as athletes and models do today.”

The ethical career: “As we saw in the MTV Happiness study, the importance of having a high-paying job will be replaced with more people wanting jobs that reflect their values,” Hines concludes. “We’re already seeing the trend of ethical consumption, where people buy products and services that are organic, and this will expand into the career realm.” Increasingly, he notes, this will be used as a recruiting tool. “More employers will offer jobs to candidates with the caveat that they can do this to make the world a better place.”

Hope Katz Gibbs is a writer based in Northern Virginia.


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"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.