New work, digitization and job search: people instead of degrees?


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New work, automation, digitalization: The structures of our working world are changing. The result is new forms of work and changing work histories that offer opportunities and risks. But education also has to change.

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherConsultant and head of the Institute's job pictures Yourweb.

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New Work and other trends

New work is such a trendy buzzword that many use, who are also not even clear what exactly is behind it. Because the structures of our working world are changing decisively through digitization and globalization. The result are new forms of work and changeable employment histories, in which there are both opportunities and risks. The classic career is being replaced by lifelong learning. How should politics and society react to this?

As part of a research project of the foundation new responsibility with the title “Politics of Work” I was e.g. invited as a discussant to a panel of experts. The aim of the project is to develop ideas, concepts and recommendations for action for the change in the world of work for politicians, employers and trade unions. The foundation new responsibility eV sees itself as a participatory think tank. In order to develop new ideas and approaches to the most important socio-political challenges, it brings thought leaders and practitioners from different areas and disciplines to one table.

Experts' meetings with Ursula Engelen-Kefer

Also took part in the expert panel Dr. Ursula Engelen-Kefer, former chairman of the German Trade Union Confederation and lecturer at the University of the Federal Employment Agency, Dr. Agnes Dietzen of the Department of Competence Development at the Federal Institute for Vocational Training, and Dr. Stephan Pfisterer, Head of Educational Policy and Labor Market at BITKOM.

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Under the moderation of Dr. Sonja Mönkedieck, Fellow of the foundation of new responsibility, we discussed the pros and cons of competence-based work, as many digital workers already live today, compared to traditional, clear job profiles with fixed training structures.

The difficulty with new job titles

Here, people who change their jobs often and autodidactically continue to look, yes gladly looked at, because they still fall through the rendezvous - I have already written here. Classic career paths also raise a number of problems, which is probably familiar to anyone who has already been looking for a job.

For the popular method of entering a search term in the job market of choice and then having the appropriate result spat out, may indeed be practical - but falls short. As a rule, many job seekers do not find the jobs that suit their skills, because it is often hard to guess what the job is that fits their qualifications.

Search something Company actually?

Some time ago I came across a nice example: I was looking for someone to take care of organizational tasks in the office for the management, actually a kind of girl for everything. In the past, in times of classic professions, one would probably have said secretary. Today, however, the person should also Twitter, Facebook, Xing, etc. “on the side”.

So, was the job advertised as a social media manager? Or with one of the more traditional names: Assistant to the management, project manager, project coordinator, personnel personnel or accounting? No. Since it is a non-profit organization and the person sought should also coordinate donation collecting, the place was advertised as a fundraiser. Honestly: Who would have come to it?

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85% want better job findability

According to a survey carried out by the job exchange job advertisements.de, 85% of the interviewed applicants want jobs to be easier to find. Again and again, a clearer language as well as more precise task descriptions and requirement profiles were mentioned among the suggestions for improvement. This is difficult because, due to technical progress, the areas of responsibility are changing faster than job titles or training and further education.

I remember that Professor a Hamburg university that trained journalists and admitted to me that he did not know what to teach the students - today they were learning app development, but one did not know whether the publishers would still be asking for that tomorrow. And employers are often at a loss because they don't even know how to label a job ad sensibly.

Digital Worker on competence-based job search

No wonder many digital workers are looking for other solutions. As Regine Heidorn, which has broken off several courses of study and an IT training and has worked successfully as a programmer for years without any formal qualification. She has found another, very efficient platform for job search: Twitter. Here she is successful as a bitboutique, is in constant exchange with her network and twitters about her hobbies and interests.

For example, she has tweeted about her hobby, geocaching; this resulted in a dialogue with Twitter, and she finally received a lehra job at a university. As she herself says, she did not even think about being asked for this qualification. In this way, Regine finds jobs that fit exactly to their abilities and which do not depend on the purely formal qualification, but on the actual abilities. But she also says that she does not need to apply for vacancies, where only the formal qualification is required.

People instead of degrees: what does politics say?

For me, this is where the advantages of competency-based work lie: the focus is on people, not formal qualifications and the curriculum vitae. Of course, the skills have to be right. And the example of Regine also shows the advantages of the Internet here: Finding like-minded people on a wide variety of topics quickly and easily.

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However, the change in the world of work is not a new phenomenon, as Ursula Engelen-Kefer made clear in the discussion of our panel of experts: For example, 1969 already had a paradigm shift in the continuing education landscape in Germany - due to the structural crisis in mining. At that time, the Arbeitsförderungsgesetz had begun to actively promote the unemployed through further education measures.

Learning must be fundamental

And that's exactly where, in education, Engelen-Kefer sees the crucial means to solve the problem. Learning has to change fundamentally, away from the idea of ​​"I'm going to a classroom" towards competency-based training. And away from the life concept of education - job - retirement, towards lifelong learning as a life concept, as is already practiced by a minority today; with which the general public still struggles.

The continuing education landscape must therefore be fundamentally restructured, and aspects such as excessive demands on people, social skills and teamwork should also be taken into account. Exercising power by withholding information is, according to Engelen-Kefer, a thing of the past. Their hope therefore puts them in the younger generation. This has, as the second part of the contribution, which I will publish tomorrow, will show, of course, the problem has long been recognized and also developed initial solutions. However, there is still a huge hiccup with the implementation.


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  1. Nico Schilling

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