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14 August 2017

Testing times for the future of work

The exam results are out….and for many of us, it will bring back the anxiety of waiting for that brown envelope to hit the doormat. 

We know there’s some confusion about what the new qualifications mean and that’s why we’ve been promoting the new national qualifications table.SCQF Levels Timeline

But at a more fundamental level, this raises questions about what businesses will need in the future and how best to prepare our young people for their future jobs and careers.  It’s even more pertinent in these turbulent times, with smaller employers with non-UK EU workers already concerned about future skills shortages.

Times have changed: the days of entering an industry and having a job for life has gone. According to research carried out in 2015, the average person in the UK will work with six different employers over their career. 

Figures compiled by Fast Futures estimated that children starting secondary school in 2014 could have up to 40 different jobs in their lifetime – which might include periods of self-employment and most definitely will include working with smaller businesses.

So what does this mean for the young person whose results arrived – and for the businesses that may be their future employer?

  1. “Soft” skills matter. There will be a need for future employees to be flexible, adapt to new work environments and develop transferable skills – time management, teamwork, problem solving, good communication, initiative and a strong work ethic.  


  2. Routes to employment have changed. Higher education no longer has a monopoly on the “best” career routes for young people. Good work is being carried out on apprenticeships. The Shared Apprenticeship Programme in construction allows smaller businesses in Dundee and Angus to share the cost and responsibility of employing an apprentice.


  3. The future is digital. 75 per cent of Scottish businesses say that new technologies are vital to their future growth, but less than two in five say that they have the skills they need in their business.  This is only going to increase in the future. Jobs Market


  4. Business and education have an equal role to play. It’s now easier than ever for businesses to get involved in schools, thanks to FSB campaigning for an online marketplace.  But more needs to happen to shift the focus away from what businesses can do for schools to what schools can do for their local economy. 



Catherine Ward is FSB's Development Manager for North East Scotland 

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