A 4G future

By 2020, over 50% of the UK workforce is expected to be Generation Y (born 1982-2000) who have grown up connected, collaborative, and mobile, with different expectations and demands of work, including lifelong learning. At the same time, a more diverse and older workforce will be the norm: by 2020 the largest single age-band of employees will be 54-56 years old; today it is ten years younger, 44–46.

In its report The Future of Work: Jobs and skills in 2030, UKCES forecasts a future multi-generational workplace with four generations working together for the first time. Traditional notions of hierarchy and seniority will be less important, but there will be high demand for the skills required to manage and facilitate collaboration across this mixed workforce.

People will require lifelong learning as they work longer, including training for new tasks and managing job transitions, while the retirement of high-skilled baby boomers is likely to mean large skill gaps. Socio-economic inequality is likely to increase; as today, the keys to future success will be the ability to adapt quickly to changes at work, to excel in collaborative working, and possess good communication, analytic and cognitive skills.

Given limited investment from employers, individuals will take greater responsibility for acquiring and updating skills, taking advantage of new and different approaches to learning. Skills and attributes likely to be at a premium include: resilience, adaptability, enterprise, resourcefulness, self-organisation, problem solving, multi-tasking – in other words, essential soft skills – and the core business skills for project based employment.