The Professions Paradox

Technology is one of the great levellers. With a smart and creative online presence, a small business can often give the impression of a large organisation, and yet technology alone doesn’t hold the key moving forward.

A look at unemployment rates across Europe shows that the employment bubble of the past 30 years has burst and the need for lower-skilled roles is drying up. There are currently 25m unemployed people in Europe plus 15m discouraged workers, which together would make the unemployment rate over 15% in total. Plus, over 20% of the true unemployed in Europe are under 24.

Yet a common thread amongst employers looking to fill skilled positions is that they can’t find the staff, and this trend is global! Almost half of employers in Europe report a shortage of skills (Accenture: ‘Turning the Tide’ survey).

By 2020, it will only get worse. An extra 16m high skilled jobs will be needed, countered by a decline of 12m less low-skilled positions.

That was the landscape. We must solve it by training and certifying our employees; we must use ‘big data’ to predict, anticipate and better target our customers, and we must apply technology to engage and connect everyone to our brand. Once again, the solution revolves around companies investing in their people, and individuals investing in themselves, in lifelong learning, in whatever shape that may take.

One of my favourite quotes comes from Richard Reed, one of the founders of Innocent, the smoothie drinks maker, “You can imitate our services and technology, but not the quality of our people.” I am guessing not many people choose to leave that company in a hurry.

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