Interviews

Naeema Pasha: “We should be creating workers who can manage change”

2 Oct 2018 By Maggie Baska

Henley Business School’s careers guru on how the changing world of work is affecting our plans for the future

From the ever-shifting labour market to the rise of artificial intelligence, careers have never been more chaotic. But Naeema Pasha, director of the multi- award winning careers team at Henley Business School, says this isn’t a bad thing. She shares her insights with People Management on dealing with disorder, and what the future might hold for career development.

Why are jobs in such turmoil at the moment?

The term ‘chaos careers’ comes from Jim Bright’s ‘chaos theory of careers’, which explains why some people get pushed off linear career pathways because of the changing nature of the world and the advance of technology, as well as internal factors from their personal lives. My work expands on this, looking at how the rise of artificial intelligence is one cause of the current disarray.

Do you think this is partly due to lack of careers advice for young people?

I think the government withdrawing careers advice services from schools is wrong. The government thinks we should be helping students to get work experience and bolster their CVs, when in fact we should be creating professionals who can efficiently manage change – that’s a crucial element. As a skill, this is almost impossible to automate, and it’s the most important aspect of career development today. 

What advice would you offer a young person starting their career?

First, have an idea of where you want to go and where you feel your strengths are, but it is also important to bear in mind how the world is changing. It’s not as specific as saying ‘I want to be a social worker’, but it’s useful to understand what you’re good at and which types of careers those skills might be suited to. 

It’s also important to try different things and have a positive mindset – it’s not a problem if it goes wrong. In fact, try as many ways for it to go wrong as possible and learn from those experiences. 

Finally, I would emphasise the importance of having networks. My research has shown that people who have strong networks are more successful in navigating this chaotic world of careers. When we’re connected, we get more ideas, we’re trying new things out and we’re supported.

What does the future look like for skills and career development?

The changing world of work means some skillsets that people needed years ago aren’t necessary now. Organisations – and specifically HR professionals – will have to consider if and how they’re equipping workers with the skills they’ll need in the future. Some roles may well be automated, but human, emotional skills like resilience will be increasingly important.

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