How, when and where we work will fundamentally and rapidly change. According to Oxford University researchers, 47% of all jobs are at high risk of being replaced by technology over the next decade or two. The Economist magazine writes that “the prosperity unleashed by the digital revolution has gone overwhelmingly to the owners of capital and the highest-skilled workers.”
Employment facilitators are at the forefront to help people adjust to a bold new future. They are well positioned as out-of-the-box thinkers to connect jobseekers with companies requiring skilled and unskilled workers. They can mobilize and motivate people to take advantage of new markets, trends and industries. But facilitators can also guide unskilled workers to gain skills in this new knowledge-based economy. Now, with millions of people out of work until the COVID-19 lockdown is fully lifted, employment centres and agencies will have to prepare for the major changes that will take place after COVID-19. The sharp but possibly short recession will test employment facilitators to give better advice to clients on new forms of work and new companies rising from the ashes of the pandemic, and steer them toward developing new skills in this changing economy.
“Employment facilitators are at the forefront to help people adjust to a bold new future.”
The importance of helping Canadians adjust to the changing nature of work was highlighted by the federal government’s 2017 budget: “The rise of contract and temporary work challenges our understanding of what it means to be fully employed, and employers and governments need to be more responsive to workers’ needs than ever before. By better supporting hard-working Canadians and giving them more opportunities to learn and strengthen their skills, we can keep more people in the workforce, grow our economy and strengthen our middle class.”
So, what makes employment facilitators so well suited to take on this task?
The employment facilitator’s role
The word facilitator comes from the French word ‘facile’ and means easy. It is about helping people understand a complex idea and turning it into something easier to understand. Employment facilitators help clients to understand complex problems by breaking the problem into understandable parts and explaining it in easy steps. A group facilitator directs discussion while helping a group formulate new ideas.
Facilitation is about a bold new way of thinking. Facilitators help get people unstuck, and support people to think of new ways of doing something. They focus on short-term and immediate results. Fundamentally, facilitators are the bridge builders between ideas and people.
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Employment facilitators can therefore help with social adjustment and expected labour disruptions of an economic downturn. They can help bring meaning to jobseekers and challenge them to seek out new opportunities. Employment facilitators have a talent to introduce new ways of working and thinking, and bring that knowledge to job seekers looking for exciting careers of the future.
Compared to an instructor or trainer, an employment facilitator does not need to be an expert in any specific knowledge of their audience. Rather, they empower their audience to think for themselves and help them along the process to finish a task. Perhaps the best skill that employment facilitators have is the ability to build consensus among different groups. They bring to the table unique communication skills that help people formulate ideas and develop unique solutions to problems in a flexible format.
Getting ahead of the curve
In my role as a workshop facilitator, my team and I are customizing workshops for adult learning, analyzing labour market conditions and preparing jobseekers to enter a changing workplace. Up until the time when the province declared a public health emergency, all workshops were conducted live in person. But now with the health crisis, workshops are offered on a virtual platform where we are able to help more people access employment services. New telecommunications technology has been implemented to deliver dynamic and informative workshops on job search, resume development, interview preparation and career planning. These services can help people make better decisions more easily from home on a computer or smartphone.
Fundamentally, employment facilitators can help people make a smoother transition in this new economy. For instance, employment facilitators develop workshops that reflect new employment trends or demands, such as older workers looking for remote work and young people needing skills training to change careers. Workshop facilitators can meet any new demand, and deliver solutions with flexibility and innovation. Therefore, employment facilitators can help create a skilled, talented, creative and diverse workforce.
When the knowledge economy moves toward what Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution, these employment facilitators will be able to implement programs to help staff, clients and students quickly adjust to the new formats of work and life. I look forward to being a part of this cutting-edge development at this transformative point in history.