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How We’re Helping Working Professionals Navigate a Changing Career Landscape

Written by Ryan O'Mahoney on Apr 1, 2021

Related content: Short Courses, Technology

Even before COVID-19 turned the world’s workforce upside-down, the signs were already there: More professionals are reevaluating what’s important in their jobs due to a greater sense of an uncertain future, fatigue at keeping up with technology and innovation, and access to more career options. Last fall, the short course team at GetSmarter, a brand of 2U, Inc., used the results of a pre-pandemic survey and post-pandemic fieldwork to develop our first report on the future of work, which spoke to many of those tell-tale signs.

More recently, in anticipation of COVID’s one-year mark, we surveyed past short course participants to gauge their current emotional states around their careers, compared to 12 months ago, and to see how their career planning is going. Responses from nearly 650 business leaders and working professionals showed us nuanced differences between generations, genders, household types, and industries. Our findings also supported what we already suspected: Professionals need an easier way to identify the skills that will help them take the next step in their career—now, and in the future.

Preparing to Pivot and Adapting to Change

More professionals are seeing skill acquisition as the key to progressing or changing course in their career—and they’re specifically looking for ways to learn transferable skills that can be applied across different job functions and roles. As skills become the currency of the future, professionals are placing a higher premium on upskilling and reskilling and showing more interest in continuous learning and, more specifically, alternative credentials.

Here are some other top takeaways we learned from our survey:

  • Career planning is becoming more fluid: Of our survey respondents, 64% said their planning changes frequently or is only mapped out for the next three years, 57% said they’re likely to change jobs in the next 12 months, and 51% said they may switch job functions or business areas completely.
  • Women and Gen X are feeling the pressure: Women respondents were furloughed more than men during the pandemic and felt more compelled to leave their job to take care of their household. Generation X is struggling with homeschooling their children, while millennials are feeling more positive about their future prospects.
  • More eyes are on leadership and soft skills: Regardless of industry, more respondents said they intend to learn this skill cluster over others in 2021. Data analysis, business management, marketing and sales, and digital transformation rounded out their top five selections.
As skills become the currency of the future, professionals are placing a higher premium on upskilling and reskilling and showing more interest in continuous learning and, more specifically, alternative credentials.
— Ryan O'Mahoney, Managing Director, Short Courses, 2U

Learning the Top Skills That Employers Want

Leveraging findings from our survey and real-time insights from analytics company Burning Glass—home to one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated databases of labor market information—this week we launched a new tool called the Career Navigator. This interactive resource is intended to help professionals understand the skills they need to learn to move from their current job up the career ladder or to a new career path.

Because Burning Glass data is based on live job postings from all over the world, the Career Navigator can help professionals pinpoint the most in-demand skills that employers are looking for right now. The tool also recommends specific GetSmarter online short courses that will teach those skills, enabling us to optimise the student experience.

Taking Charge of the Future in New Ways

However uncertain the future may seem, more professionals are taking charge of it by laying the bricks of their career path in a more fluid, yet still intentional, fashion. Instead of allowing or waiting for their employers to build the path for them, they’re mapping out the new skills they need, determining the best way to acquire those skills, and then making their move. And that’s where we see our Career Navigator coming into play, providing professionals with the intel they need to close the skills gap on the way to securing their dream career.

Explore the Career Navigator and read more about The Great Career Reset.

Learn more about us.

At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help universities thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.