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The Significance of Careers of the 21st Century

5 min read

Times have drastically changed. What defined a career a decade ago is obsolete today.

The 21st century is developing with the backdrop of rapidly advancing technologies and innovative businesses, which are forcing organizations and leaders to create new career models. These career models are no longer defined by positions or tenure, but rather by dynamism, multiple skills and a constant hunger for growth.

In Deloitte’s latest Global Human Capital Trends Report, “building the 21-st century career” emerged as the third most important trend in 2018, with 47 percent of respondents describing it as a very important strategy. However, only 9 percent of respondents claim to be very ready to face such a challenge.

So what is it that the new generation of workforce demands from organizations when it comes to their “career?” The 21st-century career is one which is not bound by learning only specific and strict levels of skills, but one that provides the environment and opportunities to employees to continually learn and develop through experience. It is no longer the ladder or simple stair step of previous generations, but one which promises continual growth and challenges with time, making one’s career span over as long as 70 years.

This new trend is being acknowledged by leaders in organizations which is why a lot of emphases is being put on redesigning traditional jobs as a part of employee engagement initiatives. Artificial intelligence, robotics, automation etc. are a few areas that are predicted to make disruptive changes in the coming years.

How Do Companies Keep Up?

One answer to this is by reshaping L&D programs and making them align to career and professional growth of employees. Learning needs to become the DNA of an organizational culture, where employees are encouraged to continuously upskill themselves, gain new experiences, and be put in the driver’s seat. Simply moving up careers along a traditional organizational chart can prove to be obsolete now, even though that is what most companies are still characteristic of.

However, achieving this is far from reality. In the Global Human Capital Trends Report, 2018, only 20 percent of respondents said that their organizations develop their employees through experiential learning, and just 18 percent feel they give the employees the ability to actively develop themselves. All this makes internal mobility still an effect of causes such as politics, title, and tenure, which goes against what the current workforce demands. This is highlighted as one of the major causes of rampant job dissatisfaction and frustration among employees, the obvious translation of which is a high employee turnover rate across industries.

Building A Culture Of Learning

Organizations need to understand this challenge and fill the gaps through a focus on building a culture of learning, which can enable these 21st-century careers. Lack of learning is one of the biggest reasons millennials quit their jobs. Millennials want employers who offer them much more than just good pay.


52% of millennials feel that providing an opportunity for progression is the biggest attraction in a job.


Performance needs to not just be measured, but also enabled through opportunities and coaching for employees to be able to give their best. Continuous feedback, regular reviews, and transparent communication are what the new workforce values. Self-directing learning tools need to be provided to the workforce for them to be able to use technology, their interest and intuition to look for knowledge they think they want to learn. Successful organizations are providing tailored and personalized learning solutions to empower their employees to reinvent themselves within the company. This has also given a market for learning technologies using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

Employee engagement initiatives like these that try to understand the needs of the 21st-century workforce and provide the tools and opportunities that help them find, pursue and excel in the fields they want to grow it will make companies not only employee-centric but also spill over to significant benefits from a business perspective.

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    Meet the author

    Keka Editorial Team

    A bunch of inspired, creative and ambitious youngsters- that’s Keka’s editorial team for you. We have a thirst to learn new subjects and curate diverse pieces for our readers. Our deep understanding and knowledge of Human Resources has enabled us to answer almost every question pertaining to this department. If not seen finding ways to simplify the HR world, they can be found striking conversations with anyone and everyone , petting dogs, obsessing over gadgets, or baking cakes.


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