Archive for April, 2013

Change and its Impact on the Workforce

11 Apr

We recognize that the 21st Century is characterized by rapid change and continual uncertainty. As such, what we are experiencing, and are yet to experience, continues to impact the dynamics in the global labor market and the nature and skills required of employees. This on-going real-life scenario is causing both instability and opportunity.

While many labor trends have been stable for long periods of time, the further we move into this century, the greater the change we see occurring. Shaping Tomorrow identifies six major trends they believe will have the greatest impact on every organization, regardless of size, location, or industry in the coming years.

  1. Globalization of the workforce along with changes in the global labor market; no longer is it a foregone conclusion jobs should be moved to developing economies to gain cost advantages.
  2. The demand for skilled labor has been increasing at the same time as large pools of unskilled labor look for work. Increasingly, we see rising rates of unemployment at the same time employers report the inability to fill positions.
  3. Generational and cultural diversity in the workforce is increasing, creating challenges for organizations, management, and individuals.
  4. Job insecurity and high demand for skilled labor are changing the employer/worker relationship and resulting in changing attitudes and values about the nature of work for many.
  5. The demand for skilled labor is increasing faster than the supply of skilled labor is growing, indicating future skills shortages.
  6. Coordinated efforts between government and industry could positively impact the future workforce.


They further state that the ability of an organization to understand the long-term trends impacting it is “one of the keys to reducing uncertainty and helping create robust strategies and resilient organizations.”

As leaders, ensuring our organizations have the best-qualified workers available may be the most critical challenge we face. The rapid increase of an under-qualified and/or unqualified labor force may cripple the on-going sustainability of our organizations.

We must reconsider and change our current strategies used for long-term planning. The discipline of strategic foresight (projecting out 20, 30, 40 years or more) must be used to help us improve the quality of strategic thinking and bring new insight into the current planning and budgeting processes. Understanding the future impact of current trends (small or great) that have long-term impact and monitoring the indicators is critical to the process of planning an optimal future.

For workers, opportunity abounds (review trends 2 and 5 above). However, attaining the specific skills associated with the needs of the future is paramount. This includes completing an undergraduate degree from an accredited university/college, as this is rapidly becoming a base requirement for first-level consideration with many perspective employers. Yes, there will always be work for those without a degree, but the opportunity for economic stability and advancement will become increasingly narrow.

Although uncertainty and change have always been part of the human existence, the intensity and speed now being experienced is unmatched. How we respond is critical. Strategic preparation and continued adaptation, not fear, will enable individuals and organizations to survive and succeed in the years to come.


No part of these articles may be reproduced in any form without permission from the author.