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Career Development for Lifetime Employability Published: Sunday, May 17, 1998 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

Companies today are not promising lifetime employment, but some of them are helping their employees to ensure lifetime employability. The increase of knowledge workers pervades current workplace. Many jobs now require theoretical knowledge that must be refreshed on a continuous basis. Estimates point to the condition that in the U.S. knowledge workers will comprise two thirds of the work force by the end of this decade. Similar trends can be observed in Puerto Rico.

Across industries and occupations, the main concern for knowledge workers in the shortened shelf life of the knowledge they possess, hence the need to constantly retool their skills and competencies. The clear message is that what we know today will not add value tomorrow unless we have the ability to learn new skills and broader roles. These new skills run the gamut from enhanced technical abilities to creative problem solving and leadership development. This is not to adopt the attitude of a friend that when facing this force said, thank God I am retiring! But the goal for an organization is to provide its workers with the capacity to continually retool their skills and knowledge. The challenges for career self-management correspond to the responsibility all employees have to manage their own careers. Of course, this competency could be a skill possessed by individuals who truly are self- starters and learning oriented. The issue is that lifetime employability is replacing lifetime employment as a kind of new understanding between people and many organizations. The employer perspective is that the organization will show employees that they are valued by helping them develop their careers.

Career self-management is becoming an important competency emphasized at a number of corporate universities. In the Annual Survey of Corporate University Future Directions it is shown that of the 100 corporate universities surveyed, 43% currently have a sophisticated career development center and another 15% are in the way of creating one. The most important function of the career development center is to be the resource unit for assisting employees in self-assessment of their skills, and advising them on the range of new skills, knowledge and competencies needed to successfully compete in the global marketplace. Last year the private sector in the U.S. invested more dollars in education than all universities put together. Thus, some selected corporate universities such as Arthur Anderson Center for Professional Development, Disney Institute, Hamburger University, Harley- Davidson University, Intel University and Motorola University are creating institutional cultures that encourage and sustain career self-management while fostering employee loyalty and commitment.

 


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