Career planning in the 21st Century has been altered irretrievably by recent changes in technology – changes that permit the worker to live thousands of miles from the office, but require constant sharpening of IT skills. No longer will most workers live their lives in one place or work in just one office for an entire professional career. College-bound students must recognize the need for flexibility above all other skills, since it is almost a certainty that they will end their working lives in very different circumstances from those in which they began.
Those students whose training is in the most highly technical disciplines will have the greatest need to learn flexibility, for two reasons: 1) Technology advances very quickly, so highly specialized skills become obsolete in a remarkably short time after graduation, and 2) younger tech graduates coming into the workforce have sharper, more current skills and cost the company less in salary than the longer-tenured employee.
Training to perform in a complex, technical environment – mechanical engineering, for example – the young professional may only spend a few years plying that trade, after which he or she will end up in management, a world apart from the professional training that was supposed to last through retirement.
Workplace loyalty is also an obsolete concept. Companies grow, get sold, change focus, move offshore. Very few workers in the 21st Century will survive such turmoil to get the gold watch after thirty-five years of loyal service. The well prepared professional will have included marketing, management, and human resources courses as part of any technically refined degree program. Those skills will be more important over time – to assist in career transitions, primarily – than those that defined the technical degree program.
- Career Colleges (bigfuture.collegeboard.org)
- 10 Career Possibilities for Communication Degree Graduates (communicationstudies.com)
- Careers of the Future
- Where the Jobs of the Future Are
- CLO: What are New Skills Needed for Future Learning Leaders?