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How to empower... skills for the workforce of the future

Episode 10, series 2

In the final episode of series 2, Chris Keogh speaks to Paul Scrivens, Commercial Director at LoveLocalJobs Foundation, Fiona Camenzuli, Partner and New World. New Skills programme lead at PwC, and Danielle Quinlan, Audit Manager and Digital Accelerator at PwC, about the skills that the next generation need in an increasingly digital age, and how the current workforce can upskill themselves to be future ready.

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Transcript

Chris Keogh:

Hello and welcome to another episode of PwC’s LEAP network, how to empower podcast. It is well documented that automation will replace jobs. However, this provides an opportunity for people to reskill and upskill to do roles that cannot be done by machines. Those roles that require value judgments, creativity, and human interaction, won't be able to be automated, so how can we prepare for the workforce of the future. Well, today I am joined in our virtual studio by Paul Scrivens. He is commercial director at Love Local Jobs Foundation, who runs Be the Change, an inspirational program aimed at helping students who may face challenges and difficulties to realise their full potential. The programme focuses on happiness, confidence, hope, relationships and employability, and encourages students to identify their personal barriers to success, for helping them find ways of overcoming them. I am also joined by Fiona Camenzuli, who leads PwC’s New World, New Skills program, which took us out of the digital upscaling agenda; and Danielle Quinlan, a manager in PwC’s audit practice, who is also a purpose advocate, digital accelerator and mentor on the Be The Change Program.

Paul Scrivens:

Yes absolutely, thanks very much for having me, Chris. Be the Change program is one of a range of initiatives that we've run through our foundation, the Love Local Jobs Foundation. That sits alongside lovelocaljobs.com, which is an award winning regional job board. Basically, since around 2015, we've been trying to make good use of the relationships that we've built with leading local employers, such as yourselves, through that job board to increasingly run programs aimed at helping to support local young people. Really employability is at the heart of the programs that we do. The purpose of them is really to try and enhance the qualities needed for local young people to be more employable, happy and successful in life, and their future endeavours. What sits nicely at the heart of the programs that we run is the involvement of people from within those organisations, who support the programs, who act as business guides, role models, mentors, to try and help young people unpick the messages, and the themes behind what we deliver through the programs, so that they can make sense of it and put it into context, and hopefully start applying it to their lives.

Chris:

When you are working with kids, Paul, if I go back to myself, when I was that age, I didn't know whether I wanted to be stunt double, as crazy as that sounds, I had no idea what I was going to go into. I imagine that's a challenge for the majority of them. So, how do you guys, especially thinking about the new worlds and future skills, how do you give them a purview into what that might look like and how they should start thinking about it?

Paul:

Well a lot of the young people that we typically work with are in Year 9, which is around the age of 13 or 14 years old. In fairness, I don’t think there is many 13 or 14 year old kids that fully know what they want to be when they grow up, I certainly didn’t, I don't think you're on your own there Chris, but the way that we try and approach that, and certainly something that we've done through this year's program is just to try and help them understand ways in which they have potential and ways in which that they have ability. A good example is, if you put a question out and say what you want to be when you grow up, a lot of them will say professional footballers, now with the best will in the world. I hope that they all turn out to be the next Lionel Messi and have amazing lives. But in reality, there is a minute number of people that are going to have the ability to be a professional footballer. However, the way that we will set that up with young people is, we will help them understand; are they word smart, can they write about football; are they people smart, could they work in the hospitality side; the grounds that deliver football; are they picture smart, could they photograph it or could they video it; really just to getting to think about all the other ways that they can employ the strengths that they have, and the interests that they subscribe to, so that they can still do something that they're passionate and enthusiastic about and give their best selves in the pursuit of a career in that direction.

Chris:

I love that and even now at 31, still a part of me that hopes that dream of becoming a professional footballer is still alive, but it is long gone by now.

Paul:

You could maybe be the goalkeeper.

Chris:

Yeah, stick me in the middle, I will do a job. Danielle, you’re a business guide on this program, what difference did you see in your mentees and what impact did you see at a professional level?

Danielle Quinlan:

Hi Chris, the biggest change I definitely saw was, it was in their confidence. At the first event, so many of the students just wouldn't look you in the eye, and I was met by so many blank faces when I was asking them about what their skills were and what they were good at. Seeing them four months later, stood in the boardroom at our More London office in front of 40 others, giving elevator pitches to the room, and really articulately talking about what they're good at and what their skills were, was just incredible. I certainly felt an immense sense of pride from that. Beyond that sense of pride, as a business guide, I did take a lot from it, trying to coax conversation out of some really shy students, forced me to adapt my communication style and the way I ask questions. But for me, biggest thing was hearing someone who was so clearly capable of something they were sitting there and telling me that they absolutely couldn't do and weren’t capable of, definitely made me go away and think about the mental barriers that I put on myself and things that I tell myself I can't do when I probably can.

Chris:

That’s really interesting, and just out of interest, what are the typical skills that the mentees are coming back with at the end saying, I am going to this, going to do this, going to do other, I am just really keen to understand.

Danielle:

A lot of it was communication skills. One of the girls that I was mentoring, she was so good at talking to people, so empathetic, and she had such an energy about her, but I don't think she was really seeing that in herself at all. At the end she was able to stand and say, ‘I am really caring, I am great at talking to people, and I have loads of energy, and I am really passionate.’

Chris:

That’s amazing and then a kudos to you and Paul for help bringing that out of students, thinking back to my time, God at that age, I had no idea what I was thinking about doing and I certainly didn't think about those skills and how important they might be moving into the future. Just going back into the intro Danielle, I mentioned that you are a digital accelerator at PwC, can you explain a bit more about the program and what you've been doing?

Danielle:

Yes, the digital accelerator program is focused on driving our digital transformation agenda across the firm, but in a citizen led model. It is really part about why the digital upskilling agenda. It's a brilliant example of really empowering people of all grades to take responsibility for the firm's transformation opposed to just leading from the top down. So, 250 members across the UK were put through quite an intense training program on leading through disruption, design thinking, and on some new technologies. The role was basically to go back into the business and disrupt. A lot of that has been helping teams to approach their problems differently, think outside the box and showcasing the technology that we do have available to us, but to the point in your intro, is really about how we can build digital solutions into what we do, not to replace our people, but to free them up to focus on the more judgmental, interesting and creative parts of our jobs, which ultimately we all enjoy more.

Chris:

Going nicely onto that, and thinking about that New World, New Skills. Leads me nicely to Fiona.

Fiona can you tell our listeners a little bit more about the New World New Skills agenda at PWC and, what skills young people need to think about as they enter the working world as scary as that sounds?

Fiona Camenzuli:

Hi Chris, you mentioned in your intro that of course we have a lot of research out there which demonstrates the impact technology is going to have on jobs. There is also additional broader impacts in terms of the demographic changes globally, changing social attitudes to work, trust in business, all of these things are actually disrupting industries and businesses in terms of thinking about how they need to operate differently in a new world of work. How do you think about carbon productivity, how do you create opportunities? We have some really big macro changes for organisations, and they create a really broad societal challenge actually, not just a business challenge. New World New Skills is basically PwC’s response to this broad societal challenge. To try and navigate this, we've been taking a variety of approaches, basically I bucket them into three broad camps. The first is, how can we as an organisation really drive, create and almost elevate the debate around skills and upskilling and the need to create opportunities. To do that as part of the campaign, really linking in with key stakeholders across all parts of society, whether that be government, educators, businesses, to really develop a debate and try and work out what the right answers are here. The second is actually PwC’s own role in the communities in which we serve. What can we do as an organisation to try and improve or create opportunities for skilling in various parts of the economy across the UK and globally. The third is, how we work with our clients, because obviously organisations have a really big role to play here in terms of the skills agenda, and the opportunities they create. That's the summary of the agenda and the campaign.

To your question about what skills young people need think about. Danielle hit nearly all of the things, I was going to mention actually, which are, there's an enormous focus on digital skills and that's not going to go away, because clearly the implications of technology, digital change and disruption, they're going to form a part of our everyday life and how we work. We've all seen that even in the past year as all of us working remotely, the need for people to become a lot more comfortable operating digitally, but really importantly are the skills that go around that to make that real. One of the roles, as you said in your intro, that they will come in the future, aren’t just about tech, they are about applying values, judgment, creativities. Skills like communication, how you engage with others, empathy, leadership, the human skills that are really going to make this work, but importantly if I were to put those all into a big wrapper, it’s about how you get the right skills to make you agile. How can young people today get themselves in the best position to prepare for a future, which is going to be fluid, and not fixed; and therefore, agility is really going to help create and give people the best opportunities. We are not in not in a in a world anymore where people have one job from the age of when they leave school right through to when they retire, that changed a lot. That agility and looking at those human skills are really key to help creating that agility and resilience.

Chris:

Fiona, just on that and thinking about maybe our listeners, who are thinking, which are the skills I want to be chasing, if I think about where, like you said society, everywhere is heading, do you have any tips for our listeners, maybe, going about accumulating those skills?

Fiona:

Well, the first thing is I would encourage everybody to be curious, and to have the confidence. Again, Danielle used the word confidence and it was really lovely to hear the story she said about the impact that the program that Paul talked about, but also the digital accelerator has on people's confidence. I would encourage them to have the confidence to ask questions and speak up, and seek out opportunities, that's one of the first things to do. Engage with people you know, just be curious and find out what's out there, but also don't be afraid to actually almost demand opportunities. This is where organisations and other stakeholders can play a really big part, in making sure they put the right framework in place that when people are asked to understand how they could learn something or make the most of their strengths, those opportunities can be there. The number one thing is speak to people, you talked earlier about, Paul was talking about 13 to 14 year olds, like Paul I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do, when I was 13 or 14, I probably didn't even know in my early 20s.

Paul:

We both.

Fiona:

It's a tough thing, but actually, looking back, I wish if I’d talk to my 13-year-old self, I had a bit more confidence to just talk to people I knew about what they did, how they learn, what they found useful, and build my confidence that way. If I could give myself some lessons from when I was 13, it would be that just really ask the questions, because people really want to help and they will reach out and pull you along and help you.

 

Chris:

But Paul, we've already given some insights into the role that businesses can play in upskilling, but how can government, education, corporates work together to have a greater impact on society when it comes to upskilling and levelling up?

Paul:

It's a really big opportunity, and we've experienced that on a smaller local scale. The majority of the initiatives that we run in partnership with the local authority, leading local employers, and the local secondary schools. It's a model that works really well, because everybody has got a really important stake in the game. Everybody is coming at it from a similar perspective. It works incredibly well, but if that sort of approach can become more commonplace and expanded outwardly, and adopted more at government level, it can only help. I was listening to a podcast a couple of days ago, and the chap on that, he said, ‘wouldn't it be amazing if there was a GCSE in character, or a GCSE in leadership.’ Those types of changes will only make the outcomes that we are striving to achieve from the programs we deliver, more possible, because everybody will be coming at it from an increasingly streamlined perspective.

Chris:

Danielle, I am going to put you on the spot, extremely tough question here, but given you are one of our digital accelerators, if you had to name one skill that would be integral to the future working world, what would it be?

Danielle:

Without a doubt is communication. The last year has really highlighted that. We are so much more reliant on technology than we've ever been before. For the last year, it's been how we've been interacting every single day at work, but that's also really brought to light how important effective communication is. I have definitely noticed it, when you've got a team that aren’t sitting in a room together, the ability to engage everyone and make sure that everyone is bought in, and working cohesively together, and delivering sometimes tough messages, it is so important to have those communication skills. Where we rely on technology, the need to leverage them is even greater.

Chris:

There is something to be said about bringing energy in a face to face meeting and bringing energy over a video call, especially since we’ve been on them now, oh it feels like forever now, I am completely with you.

Danielle:

Yes definitely, Zoom fatigue is a thing

Chris:

Exactly. Fiona, I'll ask the same question to you, one skill or maybe I'll open it up if there was a number that you want to list, one of those that integral to the future working well.

 

 

Fiona:

Well, Danielle stole my one which was going to be communication, so I am going to have to think of another, but actually I do agree that communication is so important. Maybe agility, that’s not certainly a skill as such, getting comfortable, being comfortable with change, and building the agility to be able to cope with change or respond to it is hugely valuable. That goes alongside then, it complements really well, if you've got really strong communication skills, it can enhance your leadership skills, for me that agility would be really critical.

Chris:

That's a great point. If I think about some of my friends, who have literally been working off paper spreadsheets in some of what they do, to now to have those go digital on a different platform is entirely different way of working and that's only going to continue to change as we move over into the future. Yeah, that is a skill, agility, if it is not, it certainly should be, I am completely with you on that. Paul, to wrap up, how can we encourage young people to understand the skills that they have?

Paul:

I would like to actually just chuck in my tuppence on the last question as well.

Chris:

Please do, of course.

Paul:

Communication and agility are really important, I completely agree with that. A big one for me that seems to grow in my own mind is an important ingredient is emotional intelligence. It is something we are increasingly talking about. Fiona mentioned it earlier, and in line with what Fiona was talking about, it's such a diverse landscape to work in now. There is so many different things going on in the world that we live in and being able to look at that through lots of different lenses and understand many different points of view and perspectives is crucial. In so many ways, whether you are looking at it from a marketer that wants to get a message out to an audience or whether you are looking at it from internal perspective, is how to leverage the best relationships with your colleagues, or whether it's from a sales perspective in terms of, how best engage with the prospect. I just think that ability to be able to understand somebody else’s view of the world and be able to get your point across in a way that is empathetic, the hugely diverse ranges, beliefs and opinions that are all out there. That's going to be really important, and it begins right at school on a really simple level, when it's just being decent to each other, and not treating one kid differently, because they're good at sport; and another kid differently because they dress a bit different and, those sort of building blocks, are increasingly important in how that transfers into adult life.

Chris:

I am completely with you and I think about how important the diversity inclusion agenda is for everyone right now, you're completely right to be able to empathise and put yourself in someone else's shoes. Paul, looking to wrap up, how can we encourage young people to understand the skills that they have?

 

Paul:

It's a tricky question to have like a one size fits all answer. From our experience with the programs that we deliver, we have a three-pronged attack. We try to show them by grabbing their attention and inspiring them with inspirational deliveries. We try to get them involved through discussions and activities, to help them understand some of these building blocks and foundation points that we try and instil in the program. Then finally, we try to guide them through the mentoring element of the program and role model the way, and listen to some of their challenges and, share our own experiences, again just to create that layer of context. That's the way that we approach it, but I don't think that necessarily encompasses everything that can be done. An interesting thing on what will influence young people on some of the things we've spoken about today is, as adults we're naturally getting more in tune with this kind of stuff anyway. The access to information on themes like mindset, and confidence, and self-belief which are all elements of the program that we cover. As adults, there's an increase in demand to absorb information and receive guidance and pointers from podcasts, and books, and everything that's out there in this digital world that we now live in. It will be interesting to see how that all ripples down, because something that always resonates with me from the business guides that take part in our programs, and Danielle mentioned on it is, lots of mentors will come away saying, not just that they feel like a better manager or that they feel more empathetic, but that they feel like a better parent. As adults it is just showing more of an interest in these themes and understanding the importance of them. It will be really interesting to see how that ripples down to our kids, and what future that builds, which goes right back to the point at the beginning, where if jobs are going to become more automated, it does create more room for those human qualities to shine through. it's never been important that transition takes place.

Chris:

 

Paul, I am completely with you and what an amazing message to wrap up our episode today. Look thank you so much to all of you Paul, Fiona, and Danielle for sharing your thoughts today around the workforce of the future, it's been a truly fascinating discussion. Thank you to our listeners for tuning in. This is the last episode of the series. We will be coming back with series 3, which will be led by my colleague Dipesh Davadra, something to look forward to for sure. There will be some social media communications coming around what you can expect for our huge series 3.

I just wanted to give a huge thank you to all of our listeners, in particular, Chris and Abby from our studio, and to the founders of the LEAP Network, Lucy Roberts, Emma Charlesworth and Suzi Woolfson for all their guidance and for providing me the opportunity, I've really enjoyed it. To all of our guests and I've had the pleasure of interviewing and speaking with, and to all of our listeners who listen and go away with an amazing story, which hopefully can empower you to take some change about what you're really passionate about. Thank you so much, really looking forward to series 3, wishing you all well, and join you next time.

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Chris Keogh

Chris Keogh

Relationship Manager, Sales and Marketing, PwC United Kingdom

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