Get Members Ready for the New World of Work

Future Workplace February 21, 2018

Associations have long played a critical role in education and training across industries, but emerging trends are challenging leaders to consider how they can best fulfill that role in the future. Early analysis from an ASAE Foundation study provides a closer look at the trends in workforce development that are likely to have a significant impact on associations and their members.

In an analysis of the association community’s workforce development strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats (SWOT), researchers supported by the ASAE Foundation identified issues and changes that are likely to affect how associations offer education and training. Technology and automation, the skills gap, and the evolution of learning to more modular approaches all have consequences for association-based education. Associations should be looking ahead to see how best to adapt their workforce development efforts to meet new demands.

Technology and Automation

While there is uncertainty about how automation and developing technologies will affect the workforce, how we work will change. According to one report, in 60 percent of occupations, at least 30 percent of the work is potentially automatable. People in highly automatable roles may find their jobs in jeopardy, but many others are likely to see their current jobs change significantly.

Whether they are in vulnerable positions or not, workers across industries will have to learn new skills to work with new technologies. A 2017 Deloitte survey found that 77 percent of companies plan to retrain people or redesign jobs around emerging technologies and increased automation. Identifying the impact that technology and automation are having and will have on your industry can help you design training and professional development opportunities that your members will need in the future. 

The Skills Gap

In a 2016 survey by the ManPower Group, 40 percent of employers reported having trouble finding qualified workers. People are looking for work and employers are looking for workers, but there is a skills-based disconnect, and many in-demand skills are not taught in schools. Associations can serve the needs of both workers and employers by identifying and addressing the skills gaps in their industries.

Another area of opportunity for associations is cultivating better relationships with employers. Improved connections can help associations better understand what employers—members and potential members—need in order to more effectively address the skills gap. Partnerships with academic institutions will enable associations to broaden the scope of their learning and training offerings.  

New Learning Formats

Professionals are increasingly interested in online microlearning options. These modular lessons, delivered in short bursts, have been found to be more effective for learners while allowing them to tailor their learning to their immediate needs—think of a YouTube tutorial in comparison to an hour-long, scheduled webinar.  

40% Percentage of employers who report having trouble finding qualified workers

Source: The ManPower Group

A potential threat to associations in the learning arena is competition from for-profit education providers, many of which provide a broad selection of offerings via easy-to-use online platforms. The task for associations will be to adapt quickly to this emerging competition, including modifying or replacing learning management systems that are not keeping up with the pace of change.

Ultimately, associations will need to leverage their data intentionally to respond to the changing workforce development landscape. Associations collect a wealth of data on their members and their industry. By using it to develop their responses to these and other changes, leaders will be able to create education and training activities that meet their members’ and their industry’s most urgent needs—offering the best possible outcomes for their members’ careers and their industry’s success.