Recently, LinkedIn recognised my ’10 years anniversary’ of working in my current role. First of all, thank you to those who have responded to the LinkedIn prompt. As we probably all appreciate, this quirk of LinkedIn may not actually mean very much, but as a device to reach out, say “Hello”, or remind everyone else in our LinkedIn network that we’re still movin’ and shakin’ it in the business world, can either be welcomed or at worst dismissed as annoying.
It made me think though! “Hmm 10 years, maybe I should do or say something ‘significant’, as a decade has passed afterall!”. So here goes.
Throwing Away our Wealth of Experience and Intellectual Capital – The past year I have noticed a tangible squeeze put upon our society and economy since the referendum vote for the UK to leave the EU. Ever since the financial crisis of 2008, the UK has adopted ‘austerity measures’ and part of this has involved reducing headcounts, streamlining workforces, and minimising salaries. Experienced professionals with decades of experience have been eased out of well-paying jobs to fend for themselves as self-employed freelancers, or encouraged to don the hat of ‘entrepreneur’ and ‘business owner’. Seeing many capable professionals in my peer group facing a world where 20+ years of wisdom, skills, and the pain of experience seemed to be no longer recognised or valued I find hugely short-sighted and self-defeating. It impacts hugely on the underlying mood and motivation of the nation and ultimately the role the UK plays and its effectiveness in the World.
Our Nation and Us – Think about if for a moment. Things are very different now compared with when our parents or grandparents were working in the mid-late 20th century, when they followed their ‘jobs for life’ careers and planned for their retirement. With an ageing population thanks to the quality of healthcare and lifestyles, many of us could be living well into our 90’s and 100’s+. Our economy, welfare systems, and healthcare resources need to be able to cope and be paid for. So realistically, we all need to be working and generating wealth well into our 70’s , which brings our lifetime of working to approximately 60 years. Which raises the question, “What happens with those who pass the 20 year and 30 year stage?” They are only halfway through their working life, and current industry opinion and practice treats this group as though they’re no longer valued, or recognise them as the strong valuable assets they are. These people are the UK’s intellectual capital and should be cleverly utilised, cultivated, and invested in to maximise the UK’s net worth and equity. It’s both laughable and a disgrace when you sit back and think about how this is being missed, and to think that this state of affairs has become embedded as the norm by those who make decisions about how organisations are resourced should ring alarm bells to all of us, that we’re ‘sliding down a slippery slope’ and we need to change this quickly for our own collective survival.
The UK population is currently 65.6 million and is estimated to reach 74 million by 2039. Whatever the outcome of the current BREXIT negotiations, the UK needs to be able to support itself and its citizens in every way – economically, socially, healthily, financially – where prosperity and well-being should be something we are all contributing towards and benefiting from.
Lets Change For The Better – I propose that all of us, every age, at whatever stage of our career be it in our first 10 years or above up to 60 years, get together to mobilise and unlock the huge resource of talent and expertise that exists across our country.
All of us pulling together, as we have in the past (the Second World War) can refloat and build a more prosperous country if all of us can be allowed, enabled, or encouraged to contribute to our fullest individual abilities. Homelessness and food banks, are just indicators of a much deeper fundamental problem where people of every level and capability are being marginalised, chasing too few opportunities, and going without decent standards of living. We need to remove those shackles and staid mindsets that have brought us marching into the cul-de-sac we now find ourselves standing in.
#ToEighty I propose that we immediately starting revising our view of the UK’s workforce – it now ranges from 18 years to 80 years. Let’s get used to it! Now let’s start working out how we can optimise this vast range and depth of expertise for the benefit of all of us, and our neighbours on this planet. Because we’re all facing advances of technology that will replace jobs (Artificial Intelligence), infrastructures (Blockchain), and even where we live and what we eat (the environment and climate change).
We’re at a critical point of history. Surely now there’s an opportunity for a renaissance here within the UK where we can openly create a future that calls upon and benefits all of us as we begin to reassert a more holistic, enlightened, and a responsible society supported by a strong, thriving, sustainable economy focused on the long-term.
I am calling this initiative #ToEighty – We’re Working The UK. Who’s with me?
(Pictured above: Mary Portas – Retail Expert and Broadcaster, Oswald Boateng – Savile Row Tailor, J K Rowling – Author, Paul Smith – Fashion Designer, Jacqueline Gold – Businesswoman, Marcus Wareing – Chef)