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How to safeguard your future job security in an ‘old school’ workplace

With digital skills, automation and transformation dominating economic and workplace debate, Australian employees are feeling increased pressure to keep up.

Skillsoft’s recent Mind the Gap study of employees across Australia and New Zealand shows a staggering 70 percent of employees believe their jobs are undergoing change due to digital transformation. The study also shows that nearly half of ANZ employees think their role will be replaced to some extent within ten years.

One of the employees’ greatest concerns is not future job security per se, but a sense of powerlessness because their employers are not helping them to upskill in a changing economy. Just one quarter (27 percent) of respondents whose roles are changing due to digital transformation feel completely supported by their organisation to meet the changing demands of their role.

So, what’s the solution for employees who are otherwise satisfied in their jobs, but are worried their role and skills might soon go stale?

In an ideal world, more employers would wake up to the economic imperative of digital transformation and support their staff through this change, but the reality is, plenty of leaders are under-skilled themselves and wouldn’t know where to start.

Here are some good ways employees can safeguard their own job security while guiding their employer into the future.

Introduce continuous, on-demand learning

At Skillsoft, we are often aghast at the number of organisations – seemingly modern – that subscribe to archaic professional development methods like annual reviews and day-long workshops.

In an always-connected world, there are much faster, easier, cheaper and more effective ways to learn in the workplace.

Employees should encourage their leaders to consider ‘lifelong’ learning through continuous, on-demand, personalised learning platforms. This style of learning enables individuals to access the training necessary for their role, giving each employee a sense of ownership and control over their future employability. Short snippets of content also provide far greater cut-through in an era of constant distraction. Through regular testing and surveys, we’ve found that around five minutes is the ideal length for a learning module – long enough to convey an important lesson, and short enough to sustain interest so the facts are retained. The continuous nature of online learning is also vital for digital transformation due to the need for constant up-skilling.

Make use of SaaS applications

Another way for employees to ensure their skills keep pace with technology is to use it – often. There are so many Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tools available to encourage workplace efficiency that don’t require the approval of an employer. It might be cross-team communication tools such as Slack, or workflow organisers like Asana. When employees take charge and start using these tools – and prove their success –employers are encouraged to follow suit. Taking the initiative to apply current technology is also great learning itself, ensuring ‘future skills’ such as collaboration and teamwork become part of daily processes.

Start a conversation

Finally, for employees who get nothing more than an annual review from their employer, it is important they use this time to start a conversation about their role and the future – how they intend to upskill the workforce, transition people into new roles and modernise the business. If an employer really is entrenched in the dark ages, it’s better to know now and put a plan in place to move to a more progressive organisation. Best case, these conversations will encourage the employer to reflect and become a catalyst for change.

Employees should not allow a fear of the future or an ‘old school’ employer to stand between them and their career ambitions. It’s critical they make use of the technology and resources available to become lifelong learners, improve their daily work practices today, be vocal, and pave the way for change.

Rosie Cairnes is the Regional Director at Skillsoft APAC.

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Rosie Cairnes

Rosie Cairnes

Based in Sydney, Rosie Cairnes is regional vice president of BlackLine’s Account Management Organisation for Asia Pacific. She has more than three decades of IT industry sales, regional business development and management experience working for organisations including SmartForce, SAI Global and SkillSoft, and is passionate about helping organisations leverage technologies to accelerate workforce capability, productivity and performance.

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