Over the last few years, work and its role has taken center stage in various public discussions given the speed with which it’s changing. The workplace of today is significantly different to those of earlier years in many ways among them the composition of the workforce. Today it’s normal to find up to three generations working together (Heerwagen 2016). Various scholars have attributed these changes to four different factors which include technological changes like the introduction of computers making clerical work a lot easier and introduction of new laws and regulations governing labor relations. Further, market globalization has created increased competition forcing companies to device other ways like outsourcing of services in order to remain competitive and profitable. Changing demography has also seen an increase in women in the workforce, improved cultural and racial diversity and increased education standards which creates heterogeneity of the workforce. With these four factors continuing to change, we can only expect more changes in the workplace and the composition of the workforce in the next few years.
This paper therefore seeks to discuss management education and workplace skills in relation to the changing workplace and labor force. It will examine available evidence on the changing nature of work and workforce and further evaluate its implications on employees, their managers and the organization in general. The goal is to better equip the organizational decision makers and other employees with the right knowledge to help them make sound decisions regarding their career progression and remain relevant going into the future.
Changing workplace can have both positive and negative impacts depending on the adaptability of the workers and the managers. Some of the major areas affected are the workplace skills and management education. There has been a need for a change in skills and education to be able to cope with these changes. The following changes have impacted workplace skills and management education differently.
The recent changes in technological infrastructure can only be compared to transformations that took place during the first and second industrial revolution considering the level with which it has impacted on work. Computer integrated manufacturing, electronic data exchange, digital communications and other technological advances have greatly contributed to the changes in skills and management education. For example nearly three billion people had access to the internet in 2015 (Internet World Stats 2015). The workforce in now required to possess new skill that were never of any importance previously (Cummings & Bailenson 2015). For instance, the introduction of computers has prompted organizations to hire computer literate workers. New occupations have also been introduced into the workplace while others have been transformed or even totally done away with. For example, almost all organizations now have IT departments hence the need to have IT specialists. Existing ones such as clerical work has become so computerized that clerks must now have computer knowledge as the most basic skill.
Technology has also changed management education in that training in digital technologies has become an important part of the curriculum. Nearly all managers are now required to computer literate.
The three major demographical changes in the workplace are, the aging workforce, breadwinner women and stay at home men which has increased the number of women in the workforce and the millennial generation. According to Bloomberg Business 2014, the share of American workers of ages 55 and above reached 22 percent, the highest ever recorded. This is mainly due to the increased cost of living hence the need to work longer. With the millennial generation also entering the job market, up to three generations may end up working together. These millennials brings new skill to the job market like technological knowledge which may be helpful but can also be destructive if not properly managed (Butts et al 2015). While this is positive in that the older generation can mentor the younger ones, it has some negative effects (Kulik et al 2014). Chiefly among them are their different expectations and hence their level of job satisfaction. The younger generations may have some expectations such as unlimited time off and mentoring while the older generations are more concerned with remuneration, work location and environment.
The rise of women as heads of families has also forced most of them into the job market. The number of women in the workforce has never been this high. These demographic changes have brought change in management education in that emphasis is being placed on how all these groups can be managed effectively leading to job satisfaction and higher productivity (Gruber et al 2015).
A number of laws and regulations regarding employment relations that affect workplace skills and management education have been passed over the last few years. Many barriers that previously limited the opportunities for minority races, people with disabilities, youths and women in the workplace have been eliminated. New groups of workers with special skills have been created as a result. New labor laws also require employers to give employees a chance for continuing education and advancement in their careers hence improved skills in the work place. This has also affected management education in that managers are required to implement these laws in their departments hence the need to be trained on them.
Globalization of markets has led to cultural diversity in the workforce. There is therefore need for new policies and guidelines to address these differences. Employee trainings in areas of tolerance have been undertaken to prevent discrimination in the workplace. Managers are also educated on the need to device and implement policies that are sensitive to cultural diversity and discourage discrimination (Glen & Baughn 2014).
With change in workplace and workforce composition expected to continue, managers need to device new methods of mitigating the strains and dilemmas facing management education and workforce skills. For instance management education needs to be made a continuous process and not just a one-time qualification as it used to be. This is because it’s the best possible method of ensuring managers are aware of the current issues in management. The workforce should also be trained regularly to ensure that they attain the current skills needed in their areas of specialization. Incentives such as education loans and leave can also be used to encourage employees to acquire new skills and remain relevant.
Butts, M M, Becker, W J & Boswell, W R 2015, ‘Hot buttons and time sinks: The effects of electronic communication during nonwork time on emotions and work–nonwork conflict’, Academy of Management Journal, vol. 58 pp 763–788.
Cummings, J J & Bailenson, J N 2015, ‘How immersive is enough? A meta-analysis of the effect of immersive technology on user presence’, Media Psychology, vol.19, pp. 272–309.
Gruber, M, Leon, N, George, G, & Thompson, P 2015, ‘Managing by design’, Academy of Management Journal, vol. 58, pp. 1–7.
Glen, R, Suciu, C, & Baughn, C 2014, ‘The need for design thinking in business schools’, Academy of Management Learning & Education, vol.13, pp. 653–667.
Heerwagen, J 2016, The changing nature of organizations, work and workplace, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
Internet World Stats 2015, World internet users— statistics. Available at https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm. Accessed March 24, 2016.
Kulik, C T, Ryan, S, Harper, S, & George, G 2014, ‘Aging populations and management’, Academy of Management Journal, vol. 57, pp. 929–935.
Bloomberg Business, 2014. The U.S. workforce has never been older. August.
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