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From “employability” to “transferable skills” in 4.0 environments

Feb 19, 2019

What does the concept of “employability” mean?

Is it being simply being “employable” ? The term, if we have the courage to say it, describes a current reality in a way that is both obsolete and unattractive.

Let’s talk about “transferable skills” for a 4.0 world, since that’s what it’s all about !

The goal of this “transfer” is to give employees the opportunity to anticipate their own future and to pro-actively position themselves when faced with a changing world, thus facilitating the transition to new ways of working.

For a company, it is about ensuring that the skills it needs—and that are constantly evolving—can be mobilized quickly and effectively with necessary agility

EPFL President, Martin Vetterli, crecently compared future developments to nature’s “tsunamis”.

Must we remind ourselves of our existing context?: Volatility and uncertainty characterized by the acceleration of increasingly complex economic dynamics; the arrival on the market of artificial intelligence, hyper connectivity (IoT – Internet of Things) and, at the same time, “digitalization” which is growing exponentially in efficiency and conquering more and more areas.

These major changes in our environment are an opportunity for companies and employees to find the most relevant way to ensure that their skills are systematically updated, while taking into account the perspectives and challenges of tomorrow.

If, in a self-learning world, the employee’s first duty is to develop and maintain their own skills, the company’s goal is to provide a framework where it can happen.

Younger generations—and the new perspectives they bring—are here to remind us: It is here and now that everything is being played out, in an evolving relationship seen as a partnership which is much more than a traditional “employer-employee” relationship.

As a result, there is room between “putting up with” and “acting” when it comes to change: we can make a choice.

To keep some control, it means going beyond a “reactive” discourse on change which is understood as “everything changes and I will adapt”. It means being aware that “everything is changing and I’m part of that change”.

The recent activities observed among the Swiss population these last few months invite us to investigate what is happening even more intensely. The time is one of mobilization. “Everything changes. I am part of these changes. I want to be able to fully assume my position as an actor of change and, as a result, I expect that all will be mobilized with me to change things.”

In other words, it’s not just about “taking change by the hand before it takes me by the throat” (Churchill), but it’s about bringing it along with me and mobilizing my environment. This new momentum is an energy we can plug into to.

We believe that companies that have understood they are the creators of the change that they announce will be perfectly positioned to negotiate the next steps. They will have prepared—while creating—the soil necessary for a favorable reception of future transformations.

Rédaction: John Borruat ✪ Senior Leadership Development Consultant and Partner @Direction Plus


Direction Plus implements tailor-made solutions with high impact and high added value in the areas of management skills and leadership, evaluation and support for organizational change for global and local companies.


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