Building the workforce of the future

The afternoon of Relocate’s Festival of Global Mobility Thinking welcomed an interactive afternoon panel, which discussed mobility’s widening role and responsibility in developing and enabling future talent for the sector.

Kieran Earley speaking at the Relocate Festival of Global Mobility
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 Relocate’s first Festival of Global Mobility Thinking saw HR, global mobility professionals, employers and educators come together to discuss mobility’s widening role and responsibility in developing and enabling future talent for the sector. The interactive afternoon panel sought to find creative solutions for preparing young people for 2030 and beyond in order to close the skills gap. These were some of the themes keenly debated at the historic St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London.The panel included:
  • Charlotte Avery (CA): Headmistress of St Mary's Cambridge and vice chair of The Girls' Schools Association
  • Holly Creed (HC): Global mobility manager, DXC Technology
  • Kieran Earley (KE): Chief executive and principal, The British School in The Netherlands
  • Dr Sue Shortland (SS): Professor emerita, London Metroplitan University

How should we future-proof young people and is there still value in teaching human skills?

CA: The key skills for the future will be what used to be called soft skills, which are actually much harder to teach. There are four essential areas that have been widely recommended and they are creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication. But it’s not just about preparing young people for the jobs that are here now. You’ve got to give young people the resilience, confidence and awareness to understand that the jobs, which exist now, will change.We also have to set them up with the reality that they’re going to be working till they’re 70-75 years old. Many of them are expected to be working part-time till they’re 80 – that’s nearly 60 years of employment. Broken down, that’s roughly four different careers at 15 years a piece. So they must have the flexibility of mind to be constantly picking up new skills. We have to abandon the idea that education finishes at the age of 16,18 or 21 because it is continuous. We also need to be open-minded about what jobs are going to look like in the future.KE: In a world of robotics and AI the ability to remain human is going to be more important than ever, particularly creativity. Creativity is an essential skill and I’m not sure that you can teach it. It is very important for schools to expose people to coding and robotics and so forth but how do you create an environment that can allow young people to be more human? Well, you have to make sure your curriculum is wide enough and has enough time in it for students to enjoy the things that make them human, like the arts.A broad curriculum that includes the arts helps them understand what the human condition is. In a technology age, where information is exchanged so quickly, we need to remind ourselves of how humans have felt over generations and how to better humanity even more so.
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How can the sector boost the future talent pool for STEM-related roles or other areas of work where females are underrepresented?

SS: Our future leaders come from people with global experience so if we want women to rise up through the ranks of organisations and increase diversity at that level then women have to have access to international mobility.One of the key issues is that the industries that use the most expatriates are historically masculine industries, such as mining, engineering, construction and oil and gas – all of which use lots of international people. In oil and gas, typically 6 per cent will be expatriates. Your average firm will have 1 per cent, so you can see the number is going to be higher.If girls in schools are not doing the science-based qualifications at the early stages, then they’re not going to go on to do the university degrees that these sectors want that give the expatriate careers in large numbers. I’m not saying women have to have that background but it helps to secure those top positions if you want international experience in a company that uses globally mobile people.
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So there are two things working together, the horizontal segregation of women being followed into feminised professions and a vertical segregation – which is the so-called glass ceiling. Where you can’t get to the top unless you have that international experience and you can’t get that international experience because you can’t work abroad to get it and that combination is what causes the gender pay gap.When we are looking at girls in education and preparing them for the future, it is really important that they are given the opportunity to study the science-based subjects. Work that has been done by the Women and Work Commission led by Baroness Prosser indicates that schools tend to push young women into certain types of careers, which are the five c’s – catering, cleaning, caring, cashiering and clerical. It is therefore important that the career advice girls are given directs them into a wider field of study beyond the five C’s.
Related articles from the Relocate website:For related news and features, visit our Education and Schools section.

What measures can global mobility teams take to meet the digital talent shortage? 

HC: I work with millennials in the technology areas of the company and we have a lot of India outbound. In Indian schools, they are currently incentivising young girls to get involved with technology and a lot of big IT companies in India are providing interesting ways into the tech sector.I think global mobility should incentivise and facilitate routes into tech to secure future talent and boost underrepresented groups. Stats show that women do want to go on assignment and are successful at it. Making more young people aware early on of the skillset required and that they can go see the world might help them think differently.
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Do you think schools are sufficiently preparing children for a changing workforce?

KE: Young people are infinitely creative and inspiring people to be around. It might seem quite a threatening time for young people to come into the world, we talked about technology and disruption and whose responsibility it is to prepare them for the future. But who is educating young people about the gig economy? Or, how it might be better to get work experience with an SME before entering a large global firm. As schools, we could all definitely be working with employers more.Having said that, I think young people are resilient. They adapt and are more capable of adjusting to their rapidly changing work environment than we think they are.

How can mobility teams ensure the schools they work with are geared to equip children for their next step? 

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 CA: I think relocation teams need to ask schools what career support is on offer, what work experience is available to the children they place and the higher education options they will have.Don’t just expect that schools will offer information on higher education or know how to get a child university ready. For mobility people helping families move to the UK, there are now a lot of high-level apprenticeships on offer and other further education routes.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory ©2018. This article first appeared in the Summer 2018 edition of Relocate magazine, published by Profile Locations, Spray Hill, Hastings Road, Lamberhurst, Kent TN3 8JB. All rights reserved. This publication (or any part thereof) may not be reproduced in any form without the prior written permission of Profile Locations. Profile Locations accepts no liability for the accuracy of the contents or any opinions expressed herein.  

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