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Future Leaders Webinar Series: Future of the Workplace

Hosted by Andrew Jack, the FT’s global education editor, a recent webinar explored what is next for the future workplace.

Alongside Andrew, the FT’s US labor & equalities correspondent, Taylor Nicole Rogers, joined the panel of experts discussing employment trends, how to prepare for hybrid work models and how companies are prioritizing diversity and inclusion. The full webinar is available to watch on-demand now.

Stability in the labor force

More than ever today’s graduates are entering an uncertain and challenging world of work. In the webinar, the experts highlighted that they’ve seen recent graduates pushing for a shift in the power balance between employer and employee.

Lots of graduates now are looking for jobs with real benefits and good opportunities, with an actual career path. The balance has shifted onto employers and they need to attract graduates to the roles they offer.

Karin KimbroughGlobal chief economist, LinkedIn

Labelled the ‘great resignation’ with millions of employees wielding newfound leverage in the labor market, it's no wonder graduates are challenging the status quo. Graduates are rethinking their career paths and how their jobs will benefit them. The panel believes that it’s evident that they want roles with tangible benefits and real career paths — not just any job.

The power is shifting and it’s increasingly no longer a one-sided proposition. Today’s employers will have to reflect on what they’re offering graduates and how they are helping to further their careers paths.

Job seeking in a recession

An FT survey recently revealed the level of intense competition and assessments faced by those now entering the workforce and that during a recession, many graduates have a harder time finding their first job.

During the webinar, the panel pointed out that graduating cohorts in previous recessions did mainly catch up. Despite the possibility of facing a slower start, job seekers in a recession can find employment over time.

We've caught back as many jobs in the last year as it took us to get six years worth in the last recession.

Karin KimbroughGlobal chief economist, LinkedIn

On a positive note, there are signs of a quick recovery for the job market. In the webinar, it was conceded that hiring locations have largely recovered. Especially in the US, which has more than recovered from the hiring rates of two years ago.

While that is true, there is still a large group of unemployed, underemployed or those looking for new opportunities. With the Covid pandemic reshaping labor markets, the panel predicted that the job market will see a lot of churn across these groups in the coming years.

Transferable skill sets and proactive networking

From roles within the retail sector to the world of corporate finance, transferable skills are vital for career development and progression. The panel highlighted that critical thinking, communication, customer service, management, organization and leadership are all skills that will stay relevant. This includes transitioning into new roles and demonstrating these skills in internships or interviews — focusing on them is the key to developing them further.

Some experience in a non-ideal setting is at least a start. I think it'll be really equipping students and graduates with the skill sets to now transition to a more permanent role or that second role, because gig work is just not sustainable. We have seen more openness from our students to that sort of work.

Kara PrimroseDirector of career services, Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University

Aside from the importance of transferable skills comes the ability to network proactively and professionally. More so as remote working continues, proactive network building is essential to connect the future of the workplace.

Experts on the panel emphasized that from the first steps of a career or even as a seasoned professional, it’s key to actively network and engage with others to support professional development. Professionals should be proactive and join in conversations taking place in their industry — don’t only wait to be approached or need something.

Remote working and democratizing opportunities

During the webinar, the panelists discussed how remote working not only has transformed the workplace but also the way that many companies hire. On one hand career progress has suffered due to the Covid pandemic. However, in some ways many have benefited from virtual working environments.

As a response to these new remote challenges, employers have been able to recruit from a wider range of schools as they don’t have to consider travel or physical career fairs. The webinar panel explained that this allows for a wider pool of candidates to apply for jobs. As for new employees, they’ve been able to experience online induction programs, training and mentoring for their employees.

The quality of the internships for this first year class far exceeds what we saw as far as quality last year. I attribute it to the fact that everything is virtual has kind of levelled the playing field to some degree. If you think about how many companies recruit where they have target schools — if you're not traveling from school to school, it becomes much simpler for employers to talk to students from many schools that they may not have considered previously.

Kim Lewis-CollinsDirector, career development center, Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University

From the pandemic and the benefits of remote working, it created a mass shift in home moves. The panel commented that compared to seasoned and older professionals that are moving out of cities in favour of less expensive areas, recent graduates remain open to opportunities in the city as they have in previous years. In turn, making the talent pool a larger space for graduates.

Open doors with a corporate focus on D&I

Across all industries, recruiters and executives are taking a harder look at the diversity of their companies. The panel has seen how companies are now intentionally looking outside of their own network to improve hiring processes.

Employees and job candidates impacted by unjust hiring practices have found themselves on the outside.The panel highlighted that hiring practices should be adjusted and reviewed. With that, a corporate focus on diversity and inclusion will be a real opening to tap into new networks.

Employees and job candidates impacted by unjust hiring practices have found themselves on the outside.The panel highlighted that hiring practices should be adjusted and reviewed. With that, a corporate focus on diversity and inclusion will be a real opening to tap into new networks.

Taylor Nicole RogersUS labor & equalities correspondent, Financial Times

Follow the button below to relive the discussion and watch the full webinar on demand.

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