Kelly Palmer: “Millennials are nervous about a career and what's next”

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Our world is rapidly changing, and yesterday's rules for quality education and career success are already irrelevant today. Therefore, we talked with three heroines who know well how to properly prepare for the future in order to meet it with dignity. The first one is Kelly Palmer.

Kelly palmer

Corporate Learning Specialist, Chief Learning Officer (CLO) at Edtech by Degreed, and co-author of The Expertise Economy, visiting teacher at Caps Business School. In the past, she served as vice president of training at Yahoo! and CLOs of Linkedin

Kelly, in your opinion, what are the main challenges for top managers and employees of their companies in the future?

This is an interesting question, because we live in a time when it is almost impossible for business to plan for several years ahead, especially for technology companies. I have worked all my life in Silicon Valley, so I know very well what they are facing now. Each company should have a development plan, but never before have changes been so fast, so people need to continue to learn and keep up with them. One of the main problems today – we use the same work models as the last decades, but they no longer work in the current conditions. For example, before we could spend several months designing and creating content, but by the time it is ready, the development may be out of date. Automation, digitalization and speeding up is a new foundation for understanding how we should change our approach to work.

In that case, what skills should modern people have in order to succeed in this rapidly changing world?

I already mentioned automation – this is exactly what is happening now and allows us to think a little about the future, since we already delegate most of the work to machines. But there are skills that can not be taught a car, so everything related to creativity and empathy will be most in demand. For example, having come to conduct a workshop at CAPS Business School in Kiev, I visited the office of the technology company Grammarly. There we just discussed that empathy is an important skill for both the leader and the employee. Can you figure out what they need? These are unique human opportunities, I don’t think that machines, robots or artificial intelligence will be able to empathize. The same applies to the ability to communicate and be a good communicator. But there is another category of technical skills that are no less relevant today – digital literacy and data analysis. You do not have to be an expert, but you need to be at least minimally versed in these areas in order to make the right decisions both in the field of personnel management, and in marketing or engineering. Understanding data and the ability to analyze it will be crucial.

We lived in a certain matrix for a long time – first you go to school, go to college, then you get a job. Studying in adulthood was not accepted. How should managers and companies convince their employees to learn so that they feel comfortable?

Learning is a way of thinking. There is a wonderful book called Mindset. Examining how people learn, its author, Stanford University professor Carol Duque, speaks of “fixed thinking” when people don’t believe that they can learn something and close themselves to everything new. If you say, “Oh, I don’t know the math,” you are already shutting down the opportunity to understand it. But if you understand that you need it and you want it, then you could do it. The matrix you are talking about exists both in the USA and in other countries where we are used to thinking that a four-year higher education will lead us through our entire career. Before, you didn’t have to go back to school, and often people built their entire careers in one, at most two companies, and were engaged in one thing. How many people are doing this now? According to some reports, about 70% of jobs in the world will change. Therefore, you first need to give people an understanding that this is already happening, the world is changing. Let's look at an example from Amazon. They have thousands of warehouse workers. Each time you make an online order, such an employee goes to one of the huge warehouses and pulls things from the shelves to send them to customers. But now the company is starting to use robots instead of people, which is much more efficient. That's why Amazon announced it’s going to invest $ 700 million and help employees learn new skills. The company is committed to helping you retrain so that you can potentially be employed, even in another organization. This is a kind of corporate social responsibility, it is part of a new approach to work and business.

Do you think artificial intelligence poses a threat to jobs?

I hope no. From a philosophical point of view, I don't think AI will take over the human race. Another thing is that we have not yet realized what limitations it brings to us. You may have watched this happen in the high tech industry. Now we understand that giants such as Facebook and Google, which started as small companies on campuses with simple vision, are now one of the largest and most influential in the modern world. And I suppose they don’t even realize what they created. They do not know how to control all the power that they have. I think the same thing can happen with artificial intelligence.
What about the professions of the future? To answer this question, I would look back. When you look at how many professions did not exist a decade ago, you will understand how much everything has changed. For example, then there were no application developers or unmanned aerial vehicle operators. It can already be said for sure that the areas of education and health will be in great demand, because it is important that we live longer. In addition, you will need employees who will take care of the elderly. But it is worthwhile to understand that even the very popular professions of a doctor or lawyer will be modified, because at least routine administrative work will be given to machines.
What do you think of the influence of large corporations? There is much discussion that small businesses and artisan workshops may disappear because of them. Let us recall once again the company Amazon, which radically changed the book industry, creating the ability to order books over the Internet. In fact, there are no more bookstores in the US. As a result, a certain backlash arose – they began to return, because people liked being in the store, touching books and feeling them, but we took away this opportunity for our convenience to order a book online and get it at home. The same thing will happen with craft products, because people want a unique product. We have already gone through a period when network stores similar to each other arose, people would want more. And I think that we will soon see how society tries to return to this. Another example is my personal one – for many years I was a Facebook user, but deleted my account, because, firstly, I don’t like that they enter into a political game, and secondly, I think they are trying to get people addicted . And this is a meaningless dependence on things that you do not want to do. Remember what innovation it was – oh my God, I can communicate with people from all over the world! But I, like many, am beginning to realize that for communication I do not need Facebook and I do not need to communicate with people whom I do not know personally, with whom I had no relations. Therefore, I am sure that reflection is a good way to ponder this whole situation. People should have an opinion on what to do, how to spend money and time and not be controlled by someone.

Let's think about 14-16 year olds who will face even greater challenges when they grow up. What should they do to prepare a little for an unpredictable future?

This is a great question. Do you remember the recent scandal when rich parents paid bribes under the guise of charity to enroll their children in prestigious American universities? This is further evidence of how much pressure modern people experience in order to succeed. And it begins at a young age, even with pre-school education. Therefore, I would advise you to remember that in life there is something more than school grades, because often people do not even understand what they want to do. Millennials now make up about 70% of LinkedIn employees and, welcoming them to the company, I noticed one thing – they always ask: "Tell me, what will be my next step?" They are very nervous about their careers and what will happen next. Then I want to tell them: “Listen, you just graduated from college, now you have a great job, you can just enjoy gaining experience, and by working, you will find out what will happen next.” This is all the result of tremendous pressure that affects both work and the whole life of a person. Therefore, first of all, let us relieve pressure from our children and show that learning can be interesting and bring pleasure and a new experience.

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