The pandemic is changing Canadians’ priorities for work and education, and leaders should take note
Over the last year and a half, many people have been re-evaluating their employment priorities, values, and tolerance to work in places where they no longer feel fulfilled.
With shifting priorities, layoffs, and everyone’s least favourite term—uncertain times—people have had time to evaluate their current employment and consider what’s truly important to them.
Enter the great resignation—the growing global issue of collective workplace departures.
According to a study by Microsoft, as much as 41 per cent of the global workforce and 54 per cent of the Generation Z workers could be considering resignation within the next year.
Though there’s little evidence so far that the great resignation has reached Canada, employers do face legitimate concerns about the impact of the pandemic on recruitment and retention as workers reflect on what’s important to them.
New research suggests a shift in priorities is already happening.
A recent cross-Canada survey by Athabasca University has found that Canadians plan to ask for promotions and raises after the pandemic, and advocate for more training and learning on the job.
“Canadians want an investment in their future and are no longer willing to settle for status quo,” said Kristin Mulligan, interim director of PowerED™ by Athabasca University.
The poll, administered through the Angus Reid Forum Panel, was designed to explore Canadians’ attitudes and expectations of post-pandemic work and life.
Seventy-six per cent of respondents said they want to re-prioritize various aspects of their lives, such as quality family time, travel, and passion projects. Another 74 per cent say it’s time for them to invest in themselves.
Interestingly, the study found that 61 per cent of Canadians aged 18-54 identified micro-credentials—stackable career-advancing power courses—as something they want to pursue post-pandemic.
Micro-credentials have the power to fill skills-gaps in the workplace and help employees transfer their existing strengths into tangible work-ready skills.
“For learners who lead busy lives, micro-credentials have emerged as a unique, quick, and bite-sized way for them to continue their education without compromising their other priorities,” said Mulligan.
“For learners who lead busy lives, micro-credentials have emerged as a quick, and bite-sized way for them to continue their education without compromising their other priorities.”– Kristin Mulligan, PowerED™ by Athabasca University
The AU poll also found that nearly three quarters of respondents said they want employers to invest more in re-skilling workers and offer digital training, especially given the shift to virtual work during the pandemic.
A similar number, 72 per cent, said the pandemic has taught them they shouldn’t have to sacrifice their continuous learning in work or life.
At the start of the pandemic, PowerED™ launched Navigating Extraordinary Times, a free micro-course to help people adapt to the shift to remote work. In 2021, it launched Elevate Your Personal Brand, another free course aimed at helping individuals discover and hone their personal brand and advance their careers.
“Micro-credentials are agile and can be created quickly to address new business challenges. They can be extremely responsive, connecting skill development to industry need for immediate impact,” said Mulligan.
Workplace professional development
One of the biggest reasons people quit their jobs is to pursue an education. With micro-learning, courses in areas such as leadership, project management, digital wellness, allyship and inclusion, and digital transformation that are flexible and on-demand, employers are starting to take note.
Many organizations have implemented micro-learning courses into their training or encourage employees to use professional development dollars on micro-credentials that address needed skillsets.
“Micro-learning can fit into pockets of time that more traditional learning can’t,” said Mulligan.
“This gives people the opportunity to advance their skillsets in particular areas without taking time away from work to study.”
Mulligan added that some micro-credentials can be used as credit toward a diploma or degree program—providing learners more options for continued learning.
With micro-credentials, learners can gain specialized training and knowledge in a flexible way.
Learn more about PowerED™ by Athabasca University’s micro-credentials.