Robin King
Career Source Flagler-Volusia

As I am apt to do, I asked my taxi driver in Washington, DC one day how he got into being a taxi driver. (I’m curious about how people select occupations and their career pathways.) Rather than share his beginnings, he shared his current predicament. “Congress needs to do something!” he proclaimed. I replied, “do something about what?” to which he responded loudly, “UBER!”

In a flash, this taxi driver showed me my future. My task? To help those who are being disrupted by whatever emerging technologies or sharing platforms find their place in the current and future workforce.

It is, generally speaking, in our nature to define who we are by what we do. What happens if what we do is no longer needed or wanted or drastically changed on how it is done? How do we take off the blinders and shift from here to there? That is the space in which CareerSource Flagler Volusia is poised to work.

Governor DeSantis is asking the same questions and looking at the same goal. According to the press release from his office, Governor DeSantis’s first executive order (19-31) in January 2019 was to “begin the process of making Florida the number one state in the nation for workforce education as well as ensuring that Florida students are prepared to fill the high-demand, high-wage jobs of today and the future.”

This led to the creation of the Florida Talent Development Council, administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. This Council is tasked with creating a strategic plan to be delivered by the end of December 2019 that ensures sixty percent of working Floridians will hold a high-value, post-secondary credential by 2030.

This is not an easy task; what is high-value today may not be in the future. Think about it, do you do your job the same as you did a year ago? Five years ago? Ten years ago? What will it look like in the future?

The occupation with the expected highest growth rate over the next five years is healthcare support occupations. Can you imagine any healthcare workers’ tasks being the same in 2030 as they are today? The highest projected growth in openings is in food preparation and serving and office support occupations, which, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, has the future potential for as high as 94% automation. Sales, on the other hand, is relationship-based and is both high-growth and less susceptible to automation.

How do you future-proof your skills? How do you stay relevant in today’s fast-changing landscape?

Regardless of who you are or what you do, you need to embrace lifelong learning.

According to the Brookings Institute, the traditional model in which people focus their learning on the years before they reach twenty-five years of age, then get a job and devote little attention to education thereafter, is rapidly becoming obsolete. The type of work we do at age thirty is likely to be substantially different from what we do at ages forty, fifty or sixty.

Constant learners embrace the 5-hour rule – one hour each work day focused on deliberate learning. Michael Simmons wrote, “If you’re not spending five hours per week learning, you’re being irresponsible.” Knowledge is the new money.

This isn’t new. During the height of the Great Recession, many of those walking through our doors were there because they were stuck. They had not been investing in their continued education and as a result their skills were no longer relevant in a competitive market. These individuals became what we define as the long-term unemployed, because they failed to recognize that lifelong learning was foundational to their future.

For those who have or are investing in continued learning, there is good news. Powerful forces are investing heavily in the workforce of today (and tomorrow). The current administration; our Governor; the Florida Chamber of Commerce; and our schools are all working to help the workforce of today meet current demands for skills. They are also anticipating the demand for skills that the workforce of the future will need in order to remain relevant. Efforts to fortify current and future workforces include apprenticeships, on-the-job learning, classroom education, and other opportunities .

And for those who have not kept up with their job-related education, it’s never too late. While a job change may be necessary for workers who have fallen behind, in today’s tight labor market, willing workers will always find employers who provide training.