How organizations can spot future workforce skills gaps

With technology-powered change being the only constant in the digital age, what skills will pay the bills in the next five years? Moreover, how could — and should — organizations identify the potential gaps in the near future and train employees or hire accordingly to plug them?

According to global data analyzed by LinkedIn, the skillsets required for jobs have changed by 25% from 2015 to 2021. “This figure is expected to double by 2027,” said Becky Schnauffer, LinkedIn’s head of global clients in EMEA and LATAM. 

These findings were mirrored by a Boston Consulting Group report published in May, which showed that 37% of the top 20 skills requested for the average U.S. job had changed from 2016. But which industries have been impacted the most, and which others are at risk?

The LinkedIn Future of Skills report calculated that since 2015, the top three sectors to have experienced the most significant change in required skillsets are hardware and networking (31%), energy and mining (27%), and construction (26%). 

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Organizations are reskilling retired elite professional athletes

At the pinnacle of his rugby sevens career, Philip Burgess won an Olympic silver medal representing Great Britain at Rio 2016. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience — I felt so lucky to be there, and it was an unreal sense of achievement,” he said.

However, when he hung up his boots seven years later, at age 32, Burgess struggled. Despite captaining England of the sport and being a prominent leader, he found it initially hard to catch a break in his second career. “The transition from sports to business was hard,” he admitted. “I had spent over a decade building skills and working tirelessly, and had gone from being one of the best players in the rugby sevens [a form of rugby that uses seven players] world to feeling like an overqualified graduate.”

A LinkedIn post, in which Burgess wrote that he was actively looking for opportunities, was spotted by a fellow ex-sportsman working at Salesforce. He contacted Burgess, who in time became an account executive for the software firm. “He and a group of fellow ex-athletes at Salesforce supported me to transition — we have become a community, and it has helped to build the foundation for Athleteforce,” said Burgess.

The full version of this article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in November 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Is long-term employee retention a losing battle?

Is the concept of a job for life dead?

The mass reassessment of careers people have undergone over the past few years – described by many as the Great Resignation, by others as the Great Reshufffle – is showing no signs of calming down. In fact, in the U.K., the trend seems to be accelerating.

More than 6.5 million people (20% of the U.K. workforce) are expected to quit their job in the next 12 months, according to estimates from the Charted Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which published the data in June after surveying more than 6,000 workers. That’s up from 2021, when 16% of the U.K. workforce said they plan to quit within a year, according to the CIPD. Meanwhile, in March Microsoft’s global Work Trend Index found that 52% of Gen Zers and Millennials — the two generations that represent the vast majority of the workforce — were likely to consider changing jobs within the following year.

Tania Garrett, chief people officer at Unit4, a global cloud software provider for services companies, argued that it is time for organizations to get real — they are no longer recruiting people for the long term. Instead, they should embrace this reality, and stop creating rewards that encourage more extended service from employees. 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

The Great Disconnection: People no longer recognize their workplace

Modern workplaces have an employee-disconnection problem. And it’s costing businesses a fortune.

Two-thirds of 2,000 white-collar workers in the U.K. feel disengaged from their workplace, while 53% of 3,000 U.S. workers polled in the same survey, recently published by recruitment firm Robert Walters, said they also feel disengaged. The firm calculated that the cost of that workplace disengagement to the U.K.’s already shaky economy will be £340 billion ($386 billion) this year alone.

It’s a strong indicator that despite having moved past the worst peaks of the coronavirus pandemic, and the long period of enforced remote working that followed, the shift to more flexible-working policies hasn’t solved the issue either. At least, not yet.

More than two years later, it seems that the employee disconnection can is still being kicked down the road. That’s not for lack of trying.

Employers everywhere have brought in new working measures at every turn – whether it’s hybrid models, work-from-anywhere policies, flexible hours, four-day weeks, or even full five-day returns to the office. You name it, it’s being tested. But could it be that there has been so much change that that in itself is adding to the confusion and disconnection? 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in October 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Are employers creating a lost generation of managers?

For all the benefits of flexible working, a stark question remains unanswered: How will no or little in-office experience affect our young and future managers?

To some, the opportunities to learn through osmosis, either in the office or at work socials, are already dwindling. If left unchecked, it could potentially lead to a lost generation of young managers in knowledge-worker industries, they think.

Perhaps employers deserve some sympathy. With the war for talent raging and a gloomy economic outlook, investment in developing young workers could be costly with little return.

Maybe it makes better sense to work backward: What skills will the managers of tomorrow require? UJJI research identified the five skill areas for good managers in the world of modern work as communication, problem-solving, adaptability, leadership, and productivity.

How can these skills be honed if workplace learning is limited?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in September 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How to fix the metaverse’s sexual harassment problem (and make ‘metawork’ a reality)

Since Meta – the tech titan formerly known as Facebook – revealed last year that it would invest heavily in the metaverse, there has been massive enthusiasm about the possibilities of this nascent technology, not least in a future-of-work capacity. 

Indeed, at the end of July, a study by Grand View Research predicted the booming metaverse market will reach $6.8 trillion by 2030. However, alarming recent data indicates that almost two-thirds of adults believe metaverse technologies will enable sexual harassment.

national tracking poll by business-intelligence company Morning Consult, published in March, found that 61% of 4,420 U.S. adults were concerned about this specific subject. Women seem most worried about it, with 41% of female respondents saying they have “major” concerns, compared to 34% of males. 

The same research showed that 79% of adults are worried about the tracking and misuse of personal data in the metaverse. Add in the numerous articles written about people’s personal experiences of harassment in the metaverse, and it’s clear there is a deep-rooted trust issue that business leaders should consider before funding metaverse worlds for employees, whether onboarding staff, hosting events, or meetings.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in August 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

How technology can help financial services organisations reach younger generations

Smartphone apps, gamification and proactive support are some of the ways operators can engage the digital natives of today and tomorrow

Baby boomers might have a majority of global wealth today, but tomorrow it will be different. Indeed, by 2030, Europe’s younger generations – millennials and gen z – are due to inherit around £2.3 trillion from their parents, according to recent estimates. How can financial service operators cash in on this great wealth transfer?

In 2022, client-facing teams operating in the financial service industry can – and must – leverage technology to build meaningful relationships with younger generations who are digital natives. 

Indeed, over a third (34%) of 18- to 34-year-olds would choose a different financial services provider if they were expected to visit a branch in person, according to VMware’s recent Digital Frontiers 4.0 report, which surveyed over 2,000 UK consumers. 

Similarly, Marqeta’s 2022 Consumer Money Movement report reveals generational differences. Over half (54%) of gen z – born between 1997 and 2012 – can’t recall their PINs, and more than three-quarters (77%) feel confident enough with contactless payments to leave their wallets at home and just go out with their phones. 

Consider a Chase study from 2021 indicated that 99% of gen z and 98% of Millennials use mobile banking apps, compared to 86.5% of gen x and 69.5% of Boomers.

“Younger markets live on their smartphones,” says Ben Johnson, CEO of digital transformation consultants BML Digital. “Everything needs to be available via the app, and the mobile experience has to match the ease of something like Snapchat or Pinterest.” 

Prakash Pattni, managing director of financial services digital transformation in EMEA for IBM, agrees. “Ultimately, younger consumers want to access their accounts, lock missing cards, make virtual payments and transfer money to others swiftly and securely,” he says. “Financial institutions must develop easy-to-use applications with superior uptime that can easily integrate with other apps.”

Gamification and proactive support

How can financial services operators generate trust with younger generations? “Technology is the answer,” posits Somya Patnaik, a market product manager specialising in real-time payments at ACI Worldwide. “They must bring more innovative features that will engage young people and improve their consumer experience.”

Gamification in financial services is winning a lot of trust among young consumers, suggests Patnaik. So, for instance, insurance companies might build an app that tracks fitness activities against pre-agreed goals, which, if hit, unlock rewards like cheaper insurance or gym memberships. This insight chimes with George Ioannou, managing partner at design experience company Foolproof. Learning patterns around digital activities differ according to age. Where the older generations turn to Facebook for information, younger generations are growing up using gaming platforms such as Fortnite and Discord servers. 

“This may speak to using gamified models of education within financial applications to facilitate learning, perhaps even in a sandbox, and therefore a safe environment,” says Ioannou. 

Ioannou argues that technology enables financial services organisations to become more proactive in supporting customers, and younger generations want more advice about money matters now than ever. “Operators need to step up and actively educate their users,” he adds. 

Research from Personetics, a global fintech, published at the end of June shows in the past three months only 22% of UK customers feel their primary bank has communicated with them about dealing with the cost-of-living crisis. Further, over half (53%) would consider moving banks if a rival offered better money management support and personalised advice.

Reliable source of truth 

Financial education is now starting young. NatWest is currently offering a children’s pocket-money application for free to customers. “Last year, we acquired Rooster Money, a children’s prepaid debit card and app,” explains Fay Wood, head of acquisition and digital security authentication. “We wanted to do more in the space for children.”  

She also stresses the importance of working with expert partners to provide access to apps at speed. “Five or ten years ago, we would have built something like Rooster Money in-house.”

Alongside proactive apps, social media is an invaluable tool for sales and marketing teams in the financial service industry looking to use tech to appeal to younger customers. Here, states Amanda Le Brocq, head of strategy at Marcus by Goldman Sachs, is where organisations can add value. 

“Young people are increasingly getting financial information from social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram,” she says. “But with so much content available, people can easily get the wrong information. Today, it is essential that financial services companies provide a compelling digital offering, so young people can consume content online and know it is coming from a reliable source.”

Operators wanting to engage younger customers must look further and deeper, says Meghana Nile, insurance CTO at Fujitsu. “Social media and peers influence a lot of the purchasing decisions, meaning financial services companies that have a reputation for having ethical and sustainable practices will attract buyers from gen z, who in 2030 will be the dominant purchasing demographic.”

This article was first published in Raconteur’s The new financial services client experience insights report, sponsored by Seismic, in August 2022

Is retirement dead?

The age-old concept of a three-stage life – education, employment, and retirement – needs rethinking. To make the most of the opportunity requires a shift in mindset and a change in investment strategy

Ageing was much simpler in the olden days. For centuries – if not millennia – most people’s lives have been accomplished in three stages: learning, which leads to employment, then retirement. 

But in 2022, largely thanks to the wonders of technology and improved healthcare, the traditional notion of old age is evolving. As a result, life is all the more thrilling. Now, the supposed retirement age could – and should – be embraced as an additional phase of life, one of newfound freedoms, whether hobbies, businesses or passions. 

Retirement is no longer a period of winding down or dependence. On the contrary, the concept will soon expire, contends Andrew Scott, a world-leading expert on longevity and professor of economics at London Business School. 

There’s no need for pipe and slippers in the 21st century. The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows the number of people in the UK aged 85 and over was a record 1.7 million in 2020. That amount is projected to almost double to 3.1 million by 2045. 

Additionally, the ONS calculates that life expectancy at birth in 2020 was 87.3 years for males and 90.2 years for females. Consider, at the start of the 1980s these figures were 70.8 and 76.8 years, respectively.

Rising life expectancy and population age go hand in hand. And this trend is global: the world population’s median age in 1970 was 21.5 years, and almost 31 in 2020, according to the United Nations Population Division.

Taking actions for a more rewarding retirement

However, to make the most of the possibilities of old age, it’s critical to take action today for a more rewarding tomorrow, urges Scott.

“Now there is a greater risk you may outlive your wealth,” he says, referring to squirrelled-away savings and pension pots that have been the typical source of funds for retirees. “So you need to invest more in your future self. One of those key investments is finance, but health, relationships, and engagement – developing good health, skills and relationships all play important parts. Any financial plan, though, should be dictated around your life plan.”

In 2016, The 100-Year Life – a book authored by Scott and Lynda Gratton, a professor of management practice at London Business School – was published. And while it’s often said “age is just a number”, could it be that we have been using the wrong measurement all along?

“It was randomly decided that 65 is ‘old’,” continues Scott, “and the older I get – I’m in my 50s – the more I dislike that as a starting point. While more people live for longer, that doesn’t consider changes in how we age, either our health or our behaviour.”

The average Brit has never been so old but never had so long left to live

He believes how we define old age “requires a rethink because traditional age, measured chronologically, is confusing” and often misleading regarding life expectancy. “We need to focus on biological age rather than chronological age,” says Scott. “And we also need to consider prospective age more – that is, the number of years we have left to live. For instance, the average Brit has never been so old but never had so long left to live – this is how we have to adjust our thinking.”

Clearly, good health and good wealth are mutually reinforcing for a life lived as long and as fully as possible. But does this require both a shift in mindset and a change in investment strategy? For instance, Tony Müdd, divisional director for St. James’s Place development and technical consultancy, suggests pension schemes are a good idea, but that you can tailor contributions to match your earning potential. In your 50s, you are likely to be in a better financial position than in your 20s, so why not bump up your input?

Thinking beyond pensions

And while a pension will provide a decent chunk of income for many people in later life, it’s far from the only source. Müdd stresses the benefits of a diversified portfolio of tax-efficient investments, maybe in property or other assets.

He notes, though, that while a later life packed with adventure, excitement and new opportunities is the ultimate goal for most of us, the reality is that dream can be killed by poor health. Müdd worries people often take a “head-in-the-sand approach” to monitoring their health. He points out that a quarter of people in the UK over the age of 70 will require lengthy healthcare.

“It’s a subject that people don’t like to think about, but long-term care can be very expensive, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds,” he warns. “Lots of people in the UK are sleepwalking into a position where they will not get the level of care they think they should receive from the local authority, so will have to pay for it themselves. That could drain their children’s inheritance. You can take out insurance, but people tend not to do that. The only way, then, to deal with long-term care is effectively to save money.”

Moving swiftly away from the gloomy topic of impending death is Michael Clinton, the longtime president and publishing director of Hearst Magazines. His book, ROAR: Into the Second Half of Your Life was recently published, in September 2021. And two years shy of becoming a septuagenarian, he is accelerating, not pumping the brakes. 

He counters the thinking that people have midlife crises but rather “awakenings”. Clinton explains: “At 50, you know a lot about yourself. Now is the time to tap into your awakened self and move forward. If you are 50 and healthy, you will have a pretty good shot of living to be 90. That will mean second and third careers, new relationships and lifestyles. Suddenly, people are saying: ‘I don’t want to retire; I want to rewire. I want to wind up, not wind down.’”

“Retirement is no longer seen as a binary outcome – namely, you don’t stop working when you retire now,” Scott says. “Retirement used to be like a cold shower, and now people want more of a warm bath. Supposed retirees often work part time with their existing employer or start up something themselves. Also, within two years of retiring, one in five people ‘un-retire’.”

He concludes by predicting the demise of retirement. “If you think about the 100-year life, there must be a movement away from a three-stage life – education, work, retirement – to a multistage life.” Scott adds: “Before long, we will reach the point where the concept of retirement itself – if you define it as the permanent cessation of work – will be retired.”

This article was first published in Raconteur’s Wealth & Asset Management report in May 2022

EY and others are offering employees MBAs and masters degrees – but is it a good investment?

When global accountancy firm EY discovered, through an internal survey, that almost three-quarters (74%) of its 312,000 staff in over 150 countries wanted to “participate in activities that help communities and the environment,” action was swiftly taken.

In late February, a unique course was launched: the EY Masters in Sustainability, in association with Hult International Business School in the U.K. The best part? It is free for all EY employees, regardless of rank, tenure or location.

The online-only learning program, which students can work through at their own pace, is designed to expand sustainability and climate literacy among EY workers. The hope is that these newly acquired skills will accelerate innovative sustainability services for clients.

EY’s budget for staff training is likely to be significantly larger than most other organizations. But as the Great Resignation trend drags on, more companies realize that investing in employee education – even if it’s not directly related to work – is good value. It can boost morale, generate fresh thinking, accelerate innovation, and – possibly most importantly right now – help attract and retain the best people.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in July 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Managers are not being trained to run hybrid teams – and it’s a big problem

Hands up, who really wants to be a manager today, in an uncertain and fast-paced, post-pandemic world, where organizations worldwide are shifting to hybrid working and struggling to attract and retain talent, plus employees are demanding more attention than ever? 

At the heart of operations, trusted to pull the strings, are managers, many of whom are promoted to their positions after excelling in non-management roles. “Managers often have the most accountability to the largest proportion of the workforce,” said Emma Price, head of customer success at management process automation company ActiveOps. “They are responsible for delivering against cost, quality, and service and managing customer outcomes.”

However, many would-be puppet masters are now tied up in additional, complex tasks that weren’t part of their already stacked workload in early 2020. They are crying out to be untangled by their bosses, yet evidence suggests the critical training and tools they require are not being made available. This lack of support is baffling when one considers the cost of the great resignation alongside the truism that “people leave managers, not companies.”

Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, published in March, concluded that “managers feel wedged between leadership and employee expectations.” The survey, featuring responses from over 30,000 workers across 31 markets, revealed that 54% of managers say company leadership is out of touch with employees, and almost three-quarters (74%) lament not having the influence or resources to implement the necessary changes for their teams.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in July 2022 – to read the complete piece, please click HERE.

Professor Scott Galloway on why recruiters should stop ‘fetishising’ elite universities

While walking and talking on a videoconferencing call, professor Scott Galloway articulates why higher education organisations in the United States and elsewhere failed during the pandemic, and argues a more inclusive system that embraces a hybrid-teaching model is the only direction to take

Picture credit: Nick Rogers

No interviewee has accused me of being “full of shit” before. So when professor Scott Galloway, speaking to me via a transatlantic videoconferencing call while pacing around his spacious home, smartphone at arm’s length – the walking helps him articulate thoughts, he says, but the jerky, facial profile view is unorthodox and intense – labels me in those profane terms, I’m shocked.

And yet, given the 57-year old’s venerated standing as a pioneering thinker and controversial truth-speaker, his candour should have come as no surprise. Indeed, after completing an MBA from the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business in 1992, Galloway has, one way or another, been calling out BS, predicting future trends, and rallying against socially damaging systems and organisations.

First, he founded Prophet, a brand and marketing consultancy firm. Then, five years later, in 1997, RedEnvelope, one of the world’s first e-commerce websites, was launched. Along the way, the entrepreneurial Galloway has also established a digital intelligence company and an activist hedge fund, among other ventures. More recently, there have been influential books, podcasts, and digital newsletters, and, in 2019, he opened an online higher education startup, Section4.

Additionally, since 2002, Galloway has been clinical professor of marketing at New York University Stern School of Business. There, ‘Prof G’ teaches MBA students about brand management and digital marketing. A considerable amount of his research arrows in on the ‘Big Four’ – Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon – and specifically how the ambition and rapaciousness of those tech titans have triggered a seismic social and economic change. 

Unquestionably, business leaders can learn a lot from Galloway’s forceful opinions and predictions. Today I’m seeking his latest thoughts on what’s wrong with higher education, which – as he wrote in a contentious No Mercy/No Malice newsletter post in April 2021 – is “the most important industry in America. It’s the vaccine against the inequities of capitalism, the lubricant of upward economic mobility, and the midwife of gene therapies and search engines.”

Doubling down on positioning as luxury brands

Now, post-pandemic, he laments a “huge missed opportunity”. The top American universities have largely refused to pursue a hybrid-teaching model that would enable intake numbers to swell, therefore affording more students a better education and greater career opportunities. 

“The most disappointing thing is the elite universities have decided to double down on their luxury positioning, and constrained supply,” Galloway says. “If they embraced technology, they could put half of their sessions online, and theoretically multiply supply overnight. However, they found out early on that online learning looks and smells the same, meaning differentiation doesn’t exist.”

He posits that American elite universities are “the ultimate luxury brand for wealthy people in China, the Gulf, and Europe”, who will pay massive sums of money to boost their children’s chances of attending. “By creating the illusion that an association with a brand – such as Bottega Veneta, Ferrari, or Tequila Ley – makes someone a better, more successful person, you can make irrational margins. The strongest brands in the world are not Amazon or Apple, but the likes of Oxford, Stanford, or MIT, because nobody pays $300 million to put their name on the side of Apple’s headquarters.”

These munificent endowments have led to what Galloway calls the ‘Rolexification’ of some university campuses, with higher wages attracting supposedly better teaching staff and no expense spared on facilities. Further, to maintain that exclusivity, admission rates have eroded in recent years, he contends. “When I applied to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in the 1980s, the acceptance rate was 74%, and this year it is likely to be around 6%,” Galloway continues. “I thought universities would leverage their brands, resources and technology during the pandemic to soak up the market. But I could not have been more wrong.”

He points out a worrying knock-on effect. “Now, there is so much overflow from people rejected from elite universities that the second-tier universities are demanding similar prices, effectively charging a Mercedes price for a Hyundai.”

Paying a heavy price for university education

Galloway, who donates all of his NYU salary back to the university and has contributed millions of dollars to both NYU and Berkeley for immigrant student fellowships, is gathering pace, physically and mentally. His side-on head lurches from left to right on the videoconferencing screen, the background a blur. “Here’s the thing,” he says, turning slightly to his smartphone camera, mid-stride, “these universities are technically private organisations, but they are non-profits. And non-profits usually have a societal, public-serving mission. 

“I would argue that these companies no longer have a public mission because they are not growing their first-year-student intake despite the money coming in. Therefore, they should lose their non-profit status. It’s like a homeless shelter rejecting 90% of people because it’s decided to constrain the number of beds despite having the resources and skills to accommodate everyone.”

Pleasingly, with greater diversity increasingly prioritised by business leaders, a growing list of organisations, in the United States and elsewhere, have identified the modern problem with a university degree – most graduates will be laden with debt and need training up anyway – and sought alternative routes to tap into a much larger talent pool.

“The most significant thing to happen in higher education in recent years didn’t actually happen in higher education,” says Galloway. “Companies ranging from Google to Apollo, the big private equity firm, to Xerox have said: ‘We’re going to carve out a significant number of job positions for people who don’t have traditional college certification.’

“Encouragingly, a lot of great companies have recognised that if they’re only going to recruit at elite universities they have effectively decided they are not, for example, going to hire single mothers – there just aren’t a lot of single mothers collecting diplomas and walking across the stage at Harvard or MIT.”

Urging business leaders to be more open-minded about their approach to hiring, Galloway admits that he, too, was “guilty of fetishising and recruiting from the elite universities” early in his career. “We loved it, it made us feel good about ourselves. But as long as the best organisations continue to fetishise those places we are never going to break this cycle.”

Stunned to silence

At this juncture in the interview, I comment that I’m unconvinced my two young children will attend university. Suddenly, Galloway stops walking and looks directly at his phone screen. He calmly asks a series of questions, including whether I’m married and whether my wife and I attended university. Having answered “yes” to his queries, he raises the volume and picks up the pace again.

“OK,” Galloway starts, “so you’re full of shit. Both of your kids are going to university. While you pretend to be thinking avant-garde, the odds are that by the time they start secondary school, you will recognise the power of certification and begin creating landing lights and guardrails, putting your kids on track to university.”

Seeing I have been stunned to silence, he goes on. “I think you are expressing the general sentiment that university is slowly but surely not the return on investment it once was. My seven years of college education cost $7,000, so it was a no-brainer for me, the son of a single immigrant mother. It meant an unremarkable kid gained a remarkable certification and has resulted in prosperity and opportunity that I didn’t have access to previously. 

“Now, an outrageous cost is attached to attending an elite university, but the certification that sets you up for life, making you more attractive to potential mates and employers, is still very powerful. And while people like you are starting to do the math, statistics based on your demographic, your profession, and the home environment you will create, your kids are college-bound, full stop.”

Mindset change required by those in charge

Desperate to shift the conversation, I ask whether Section4, which provides “unlimited, MBA-quality online business education”, according to its website, could be a viable and cheaper alternative to university. Certainly, it scores well on the cost and acceptance fronts, says Galloway, offering “courses at 10% of the price of an MBA, and with 1% of the friction, as there is no complicated application process”. 

And although Section4 thrived during the pandemic, when people had more time to study online, he concedes that the platform has become more suited to “mid-career professionals” looking to expand their skills alongside colleagues, virtually. “We’ve transitioned from a B2C to B2B company, and have found, post-pandemic, that universities have become more proprietary about their professors doing talks for us.”

Bracing myself for more Prof G profanity, I pose a final question. What is Galloway’s key message? “There is a larger issue here in the US and Europe about whether we want to continue to embrace this rejectionist – almost nimbyist – mindset,” he says. “Regulators and university leaders need to start planting trees the shade of which we might not enjoy. Admission rates must be expanded, as must housing opportunities for young people.”

Turning to the camera once more and slowing his walk, he adds: “My generation has decided that it’s awesome not to provide younger people with the opportunities we had because it makes our assets, our houses, our diplomas, our shares all more valuable. It is bad for society and reflects poorly on the generation in charge. What’s happening in higher education is just a manifestation of that selfish mindset.” 

Business leaders would do well to heed Galloway’s warning.

A (sanitised) version of this article was published by Raconteur in July 2022 – you can read that here

WTF is well-being debt?

The gut punches just keep coming. War in Ukraine, women’s rights under fire in the U.S. where a potential recession also darkens the horizon, and a cost-of-living crisis in the U.K. Add in the trauma of enduring two years of an unprecedented global pandemic and the climate crisis, and it’s no surprise many people feel their mental well-being is at an all-time low.

And while many employers are stepping up to the plate with financial assistance and additional benefits, much more investment is needed to bolster employee well-being, experts say. To help employers better understand the financial impact that having an exhausted and unhappy workforce has on the bottom line, a new term has been coined and is starting to be used more broadly: “well-being debt.”

But WTF is it?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in July 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE.

‘I was thrown off a project because I misheard’: Deaf inclusivity in the workplace still an issue

The LinkedIn profile image of culture and behavioral change consultant Simon Houghton, shows him wearing a black mask with white writing that reads: “I’m deaf. I can’t read your lips with your mask on.”

Houghton, based in Reading in the U.K., has significant hearing loss so relies heavily on lipreading when communicating – a skill which became even harder to use during the pandemic when everyone wore masks. And while the rise of virtual meetings has helped to some extent (people still turn their cameras off blocking lipreading), workplaces still don’t cater well enough to people with hidden conditions like deafness or severe hearing loss.

To boost awareness Houghton launched social enterprise WeSupportDeafAwareness during the pandemic. His message is clear: not enough is being done to support deaf workers, who make up a large chunk of the population. Consider that 1.5 billion people – almost 20% of the global population – live with a degree of hearing loss, according to the latest World Health Organization calculations

Houghton has had to pay a heavy price for this lack of inclusivity at work. One of his worst memories he still recalls. “I was working for a big-four management consultancy firm and was thrown off a project because I misheard an action during a client meeting,” he said. 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in July 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE.

What does the advent of sentient AI really mean for businesses and the workforce?

The futuristic notion that a machine will one day become self-aware, for good and evil, has been a staple of science fiction. So when a Google engineer reckoned the company’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA) program had achieved “sentience” in mid-June, it triggered both alarm and glee.

A fortnight before Lemoine’s claim, Elon Musk announced that a prototype of Tesla’s humanoid robot, “Optimus,” would be unveiled in September. Last August, the billionaire suggested the 173-cm, general-purpose bot would have “profound implications for the economy” and be capable of carrying out everyday tasks, including supermarket shopping. 

So, how significant are these two headline-grabbing development for businesses? What, back in the realms of science fact and reality, could the advent of sentient AI mean for the future of work? And what should business leaders be doing, if anything, to prepare for this challenge and opportunity?

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in July 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE.

How companies are attempting to tackle diversity ‘blind spots’ at the hiring stage

In an attempt to root out all biases – conscious or unconscious – at the hiring stage, more organizations are overhauling their recruitment processes.

For many, that’s meant stripping their recruitment methods to the bare bones and examining everything from how language in job ads can influence who applies, to improving interview questions so they focus on a person’s aptitude and skill, rather than background and experience.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in July 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE.

Why more companies are sending new hires straight to the metaverse for improved onboarding

What will you learn on your first day at work in the metaverse? 

This year, some 150,000 joiners will begin their careers at Accenture in the company’s virtual campus, called the Nth Floor, according to Allison Horn, the company’s executive director of global talent, based in Washington DC.

The Nth Floor is where new hires and existing Accenture staff “can have a more immersive experience for learning and networking,” said Jon Ayres, U.K. managing director for talent and organization at the company. It is one of a growing list of examples showcasing how employers are using pioneering technology to attract and retain top talent. 

Given the tussle for top talent and the need for greater connection with colleagues in the age of hybrid working, Ayres predicts that companies will “experiment with new technology so employees can collaborate in a more meaningful way, which will advance the virtual working tools used widely today.” His statement is supported by new McKinsey research, published mid-June, which calculates metaverse spending will hit $5 trillion by 2030.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s future-of-work platform, WorkLife, in June 2022 – to read the complete piece please click HERE.

Bookshelf: Lynda Gratton on why design is central to making hybrid returns work for everyone

Hundreds if not thousands of organizations have revealed their hybrid working strategies in the last few weeks, with varying volumes of fanfare. Clearly, these plans are works in progress, given the colossal shift — for many — from the old normal. And it’s also apparent that there is no blueprint for success. Or is there?

Lynda Gratton, a professor of management practice at London Business School and the founder of HSM, the future-of-work research consultancy, is known for her work on organizational behavior. And in her latest book, “Redesigning Work: How to Transform Your Organization and Make Hybrid Work for Everyone,” she offers a four-step process to success: understand what matters: reimagine the future, model and test and, finally, act and create. But perhaps the most crucial advice is delivered in the book’s dedication: “To all those who are bold enough to redesign work.” 

This article was first published on DigiDay’s WorkLife platform in April 2022 – to continue reading please click here.

Meet Homeboy Industries: the California not-for-profit providing jobs to former gang members and incarcerated people

Jose Guevara — aka Manny — has been incarcerated five times and in all, has served about 25 years. However, in recent years, Guevara, now 62, has steered clear of trouble, which he credits to his employer, Homeboy Electronics Recycling, where he works as a long-haul driver. 

“I’m the main driver of the big truck,” he says with a grin. “I’ve been to Utah, San Francisco, and Sacramento, and I love that this company trusts me with its truck and merchandise. We are growing, and I’m so proud to be part of it. Without my work here, there is a high chance I would be back in prison right now.”

This article was first published on DigiDay’s WorkLife platform in December 2021 – to continue reading please click here.

How companies are tapping avatars, virtual spaces to introduce new hires to their colleagues and cultures

The digital world, where hybrid working is increasingly the norm, can be a lonely place — especially when joining an organization or learning a new skill for career development. To solve this challenge, companies are reaching for their virtual and augmented reality headsets and taking the plunge with immersive training.

One such organization is HubSpot. The customer relationship management company is trialing VR remote office tours and using it to present employees with an “immersive and unique look” into HubSpot’s remote community. “The VR platform allows employees to build an avatar, walk around the virtual space, and even hear other employee voices — connecting in real-time, as you would in an office setting,” said Hubspot’s Boston-based culture manager Meaghan Williams.

This article was first published on DigiDay’s WorkLife platform in December 2021 – to continue reading please click here.

Inside the St Andrews success story: how Prince William’s university became the best in the land

There’s nothing like studying alongside a Duke for a memorable student experience – but there’s more to my alma mater than Royal approval

My alma mater, the University of St Andrews, found on a picturesque coastal stretch of east Fife, has always been my number one. But the ‘auld grey toon’ has now also been named top in a prominent university guide – bettering the Oxbridge duopoly for the first time in nearly 30 years of the award’s history.

In a stroke of incredible fortune almost exactly 20 years ago, my first tutorial group, led by the urbane Prof Brendan Cassidy, was composed of me, seven female students and a certain male Royal. We became pals; he played in my Sunday league football team (The Strokers), and I attended his 21st birthday party at Windsor Castle.

Granted, there’s nothing like studying alongside Prince William to make for a wildly enjoyable student experience, but St Andrews possesses an unparalleled allure and long history that help boost the “student satisfaction” rating as assessed by the judges.

Before the heir to the throne and his future wife enrolled, people thought of St Andrews primarily as the home of golf. And before that, almost a millennium ago, it was the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland with a magnificent cathedral and one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in Europe. The big draw was that it was supposed to be the resting place of Andrew the Apostle’s bones, from which it takes its name. 

The town flourished thanks to pilgrim footfall. Scotland’s oldest university (and third in the English-speaking world behind Oxford and Cambridge) was founded in 1413, some 341 years before The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews was established. 

However, the complexion of the town was scarred following the violent Scottish Reformation in the mid-16th century. The Martyrs Memorial stands proud on the Scores, overlooking the sea – and close to where I lived in my final year. 

One wonders what those martyrs and Saint Andrew would have made of the confident young men, with pink trousers and upturned collars, and plummy-voiced, wannabe princesses I studied with in the early noughties. 

However, on the face of it, St Andrews is a bizarre choice for further education. Firstly, it is small – students make up around half of the town’s 18,390 population – and has just three main streets. Secondly, there is no nightclub, although arguably the annual Raisin Weekend, which culminates in a drunken foam party for freshers on the main quadrangle, makes up for that. Plus there’s always Dundee for dancing – just a 30-minute taxi ride away.

But there is so much to this tiny town, which is flanked by two long, sandy beaches – West Sands (where the opening shots of Chariots of Fire were filmed) and East Sands. With its world-class teaching and stunning surroundings, the university offers a powerful proposition, according to Lord Knight – former chief education adviser to Tes Global – who adds that its diminutive size can sometimes be part of its appeal. “Students like the human scale of a small university in a small place,” he says. “St Andrews is doing well by focusing on what counts: teaching quality and student satisfaction.

“Tuition is relatively well resourced in a great environment that makes for strong engagement and excellent outcomes. Fuse that with a rich history, international outlook and subject strengths in fields that are important to the economy, and you have a winning combination.”

Indeed, the latest rankings show St Andrews tops the charts in the UK for seven subjects: computer science, business management, English (for which straight As are now required), philosophy, physics and astronomy, Middle East and African studies, and international relations. 

That the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are alumni has raised its profile and made it a more desirable place to study and teach. And despite its storied history, the university’s progressive and proactive approach to supporting the wellbeing of students has impressed. For example, its Can Do initiative – a joint strategy between the university and the Students’ Association – was started primarily to reimagine, experiment with and contribute to the St Andrews student experience.

Set up in October 2020, it has provided “space for students and staff to have normal interactions and social activities” even during the pandemic, says Lottie Doherty, president of the St Andrews Students’ Association. A marquee was set up and they organised outdoor socials such as a pier walk. Where possible, in-person teaching has happened for the past year.

Lord Knight believes this bold and brave approach to engage students, which was a stark contrast to the prison-like experiences of students at many other universities in the last year, has been rightly applauded. “The student satisfaction ratings have strengthened during Covid against a backdrop of many young people nationally struggling with mental health, and students questioning the value for money of online tuition,” he continues.

Professor Sally Mapstone, principal and vice-chancellor of the university, is revelling in the news, understandably. “As one community, we constantly strive for excellence, and have a strategy that hasn’t been afraid to believe St Andrews could challenge at the very top by combining the best teaching, world-leading research, and an unswerving commitment to student satisfaction and achievement,” she says.

Whether or not St Andrews is better than studying at Oxbridge is a moot point. Echoing Dame Mary Beard’s comments that we would do well not to be “fixated” by Oxford and Cambridge, Lord Knight adds: “Culturally, our country is over-obsessed with Oxbridge. St Andrews is an example of the strength and depth we have elsewhere in research, in teaching and in delivering for students the experience they need to be successful adults.”

The auld grey toon will always win for me. It has provided a vibrant life and career, and I’m grateful to have studied there two decades ago – not least because I wouldn’t have had the grades to attend the UK’s new top university today.

This piece was originally published in The Telegraph in September 2021