How We Work
The world of work is going through a fundamental transition. In the age of digitization, automation, and acceleration, companies have a new imperative: to build workplaces in which employees are encouraged and given the opportunity to learn new skills as a regular part of their work lives. Workers of the future must be quick to evolve, constantly developing new skills. This is what Kelly Palmer and David Blake, two top officials at Degreed, argue in The Expertise Economy: How the Smartest Companies Use Learning to Engage, Compete, and Succeed.
The onus is on businesses to make this happen, they write. “While government can be a powerful force when it comes to launching skills initiatives, it’s companies and their leaders who need to lead the way.”
I interviewed Kelly about what businesses, employees and workers of the future — including today’s graduates — should know in order to come out on top.
What is the “Expert Revolution”?
There have been previous major shifts in the world of work, such as the Industrial Revolution. Over the past couple of decades, there’s been a technological revolution. Now, we’re looking at an Expert Revolution, in which workplace skills are the most important currency. That’s why we call it the Expertise Economy — expertise is any organization’s most crucial asset.
With digital disruption constantly changing how business is done and offering new possibilities for how business can be done, we need a workforce full of agile learners who are passionate about developing new skills all the time.
This requires getting rid of the old ways of doing corporate L&D (Learning and Development). Top-down strategies in which bosses send employees to day-long lecture sessions in classrooms are no longer the answer. In our book, we explore the proven best practices for workers to develop real expertise, and for business leaders to inspire them to do so.
“It’s time to put learners in the driver’s seat. Businesses should let employees decide what they want to learn.” -Kelly Palmer
Shift to Skills from Credentials
Hiring managers think in terms of degrees and credentials more than skills. Will this shift over time? Why or why not?
It has to shift. We call for this to happen as quickly as possible. Already, some business leaders hire new graduates only to find that these new hires are wholly unprepared to succeed at their jobs or to navigate the real world of work, especially in this challenging and rapidly changing environment.
A university pedigree doesn’t tell a hiring manager what skills or knowledge the applicant has. The same goes for GPA, job titles, and logos on a resume — all factors that have in the past been seen as “credentials,” but in reality, don’t show you a candidate’s potential.
This is why at Degreed, we offer skill assessments and certifications. These show the kinds of expertise each candidate brings to the table. Most current resumes don’t provide a clear picture of the knowledge a candidate has learned, whether through school, in a learning program, or through years of experience.
It’s also time to fill the gap between what students learn in college and what they need to do practically to be successful in the workplace. Universities and corporations can build closer connections to help give students a better shot at developing relevant skills for the job market.
“One of the most important skills is being an agile learner. You want your workforce to have a desire and passion for continuous learning.”-Kelly Palmer