General Assembly’s recommendation for keeping up is simple: Companies need to invest in learning. The Economist magazine recently issued a special report that highlighted the importance of “lifelong learning” as a habit that both skilled and unskilled workers must incorporate to keep pace with a rapidly developing economy. They profiled GA’s approach to tech education — including upskilling promising individuals and reskilling those with outdated competencies in data, web development, and design — as an effective way to ensure employees’ skills were kept up to date.
Create opportunities for employers and job-seekers alike with these proposed policies to help close chronic skills gaps.
A tightening labor market, persistent skills gaps (in fields from manufacturing to technology), and the short shelf life of skills in the rapidly changing digital economy, have led to a seemingly paradoxical narrative in the education-to-employment pipeline.
In manufacturing, for instance, 70 percent of companies now face shortages of workers with the necessary technology skills. And yet millions of Americans struggle to find jobs that put them on a path toward social and economic mobility or, at least, a comfortable perch in the middle class.
What’s worse, the compounding forces of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will begin to dislocate a growing number of workers — putting unprecedented pressure on an education and workforce development system that is ill-equipped to tackle looming reskilling and training challenges.
New Models Emerge
In the last five years, an array of non-accredited education and training providers has surfaced to address these challenges, including General Assembly, as well as on-demand learning platforms, ultra-low-cost course providers (like StraighterLine or Coursera), and new approaches to “education as an employee benefit” (pioneered by companies like Chipotle, in partnership with Guild Education).
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talks leadership lessons with Reid Hoffman on the Masters of Scale podcast. Photo by Jacqui Ipp.
Leading a high-growth company and scaling it into a tech empire involves working through countless challenges: You need to constantly innovate, adapt with the economy, navigate relationships with executives, evolve your team, and more. Sheryl Sandberg knows this experience intimately, from her time as Google’s VP of global online sales and operations — during which she scaled the company’s online sales team from four to 4,000, driving two-thirds of the company’s revenue — through her past nine years as Facebook’s chief operating officer.
To get to where she — and Facebook — is today, Sandberg has learned hard leadership lessons about growing a team and a company.
This piece has been adapted from Talent Economy. Read General Assembly and Whiteboard Advisors’ full white paper, Investing in Talent, here (PDF).
Amid complex external and economic pressures, companies must face the reality that the nature of business is changing. The pace of technological change continues to accelerate, and in an era in which the shelf life of skills is less than five years, it is critical for employers to prepare their workers to adapt to the shifting demands of work in the digital age.
The good news for employers is that current federal policy provides tax-advantaged opportunities for companies to support employees’ educational aspirations. Rooted in sections 117, 127, and 132 of the tax code, educational tax benefits are somewhat unique in that they provide a double benefit: They are both deductible for the employer, and tax free to the employee.
In this digital age, employee roles and responsibilities are changing as quickly as industries are evolving. Most jobs available today don’t have higher education programs, standardized exams, or textbooks that definitively tell people which skills they need in order to land them. Without this industry standardization, employers also struggle; they don’t have clear boxes to tick when evaluating job seeker’s qualifications. How can companies get a better sense of which skills job candidates and employees need? How can job seekers become more savvy about developing and communicating their qualifications?
At General Assembly, we work every day to answer these two questions. We provide job seekers with the competencies they need to be successful in today’s workforce. We also help employers understand how to evolve with their industry and connect with skills and talent that will enable them to grow. But in order to provide guidance to employers and job seekers most effectively, we must have a clear definition of each field ourselves. As the job landscape changes and General Assembly grows, we constantly refine our offerings and frameworks to better unite our product and message.
Let’s look at the field of digital marketing, which has seen exponential change in the last few years.
All aboard! It’s never been a better time to embark on your digital marketing journey.
We all seek experience. Personally and professionally, experience captures what we’ve done and what we have the potential to do. In hiring, prior experience is used as a shortcut to qualify job-seekers for interviews, job offers, and higher compensation. This shortcut works well in steady fields where the practices of the industry rarely change. If someone has done it before, they can probably do it again.
But does this shortcut work in a field that is dramatically changing? Marketing is an occupation undergoing rapid change. Adults now spend six hours a day with digital media, compared to three hours a day in 2009. As consumers move social, professional, and personal interactions online, advertising has followed. 2016 was the first year that digital media overtook TV as the largest channel for ad spending. Successful digital campaigns now require proficiencies across a host of new platforms, and the question for veterans and aspiring marketers is: Does general experience in marketing still matter?
Don’t be afraid to take risks, like introducing yourself to someone — in person — on a whim.
I still remember the early days of networking, before LinkedIn existed to help organize your professional life. When you’re fresh out of college, networking typically means going to happy hours, checking in with former classmates, and keeping in touch with mentors from your summer internships. But it’s the people who decide to go above and beyond college or corporate happy hours — with creative approaches to introductions — who can really stand out.
After you’ve been in the workforce for 15-plus years like I have, your networking strategy needs to evolve to place you in front of the right senior executives at innovative, cutting-edge companies. Remember that you are your own best publicist and it’s OK to be forward, ambitious, and scrappy to open the right doors. Don’t be afraid to take risks like introducing yourself to someone — in person — on a whim. Don’t hide behind LinkedIn connections online. Instead, create real, long-lasting relationships that will connect you with the biggest opportunities of your life.
Design Thinking is the latest competitive advantage for businesses across a wide range of industries: tech, education, retail and even aerospace. Design Thinking (DT) has received extensive coverage in major publications like Harvard Business Review and the New York Times. Relatively old stalwarts in the area like IDEO and Frog focus on design as a consultancy service. Companies like General Assembly offer training to everyone from large foundations to Fortune 500s. Other large corporations, like Capital One and Fidelity, are building in-house design teams that can both design and teach others throughout the organization to design.
Everyone knows what a quality learning experience feels like: exciting, energizing, satisfying, and entertaining. Conversely, everyone knows what a bad learning experience feels like:bored, useless, disappointing or unsatisfying.
So how do you create experiences that inspire the first set of words and avoid the second? Based on our experiences designing high impact learning experiences for adults, we’ve identified four universal truths that apply to almost all of our engagements.
Demonstrating return on investment is much easier in some parts of the business than in others. In business development, for example, it’s much easier to prove that allocating additional sales resources or tools can directly lead to an increase in quantifiable revenue, which is then factored into a clean-cut ROI formula.