A founder shares his perspective on career education in a world of hybrid working.
GUEST COLUMN | by Martin Ramsin
When the pandemic hit in 2020, it hyper-accelerated the gradual but inevitable shift towards hybrid work. COVID-19 fundamentally changed our approach to how, where and when we work, casting a spotlight on the fundamental human need for autonomy in our lives. Once upon a time, I used to come home tired from work at 7pm, with just enough time to say goodnight to my kids. It was the same for my dad when I was a child. Now, thanks to hybrid working, I’m able to pick up my kids from school every day, while also being the CEO of a company that employs 120 people.
The Workplace as We Once Knew It
The workplace as we once knew it is gone, and hybrid working is here to stay. Generally speaking, tech professionals were some of the first to embrace this shift, however we’ve now seen it spread to other professions as they become increasingly digital. Working digitally makes this new lifestyle possible, which is a key reason why an increasing number of people are considering switching careers to tech. Not only does it boast this sought after degree of flexibility, but it also offers an opportunity to have an impact, while being creative at the same time.
‘When switching to digital careers, it is no longer just a new profession that one needs to learn, but also how to effectively work remotely.’
With location no longer acting as a barrier to many jobs, changing careers is something that more people are considering. Not long ago, switching career paths was difficult to orchestrate, and often stigmatized as failure. Online learning, however, has made it possible for people who would otherwise be unable to physically attend classes, such as parents, careers and full-time workers, to learn alongside their peers, granting them access to lucrative career paths previously out of reach.
When switching to digital careers, it is no longer just a new profession that one needs to learn, but also how to effectively work remotely. This entails a new way of communicating and collaborating asynchronously (i.e. not in real time), through the use of online tools. All of this can be learned, but how? Well, it doesn’t make sense to learn these skills in an offline classroom, nor in an online classroom either, because “classroom” is no longer the paradigm that we’re working towards. The new paradigm is all about asynchronous, flexible collaboration. We need a new kind of school for a new world of work, and that is one that enables people to work on their own terms.
Solving an Isolation Problem
I started CareerFoundry with the goal to make online learning more human. Inspiration for CareerFoundry stemmed from my own experience of learning a programming language using an online tutorial. To my disappointment, I found the experience incredibly isolating. It was just me and my computer, with the learning process lacking any sense of community. Learning in-person is social and dynamic, and I couldn’t understand why that wasn’t also true for online courses. I realized the need for an entirely flexible online space where people could learn tangible digital skills without feeling isolated, with the support of mentors who were up-to-date with the latest tools and ways of working. I saw this as the only way to equip people with the necessary skills for the digital economy and facilitate career changes to tech.
No longer bound by ‘traditional’ office hours in metropolitan areas, these flexible courses can accommodate anyone from busy people in cities to individuals living in rural regions and developing nations. In this way, the pairing of hybrid working and flexible online courses has opened up job opportunities for talent across the globe.
The Best Talent, Wherever They Are
Despite the fact that intelligence is equally distributed, where you are based has historically had a dramatic impact on the opportunities available to you. However, this is finally changing. Forward-thinking companies, like Airbnb, Coinbase and Shopify, are using remote working policies to hire the best talent, wherever they may be. As a result, these businesses are gaining access to a wealth of untapped potential, while also levelling the playing field for access to jobs.
In business, it’s often said that if you’re not moving forwards, then you’re moving backwards. The same applies to people and their skill sets. As we tread these new waters within hybrid work and online education, we are empowering individuals with the ability to re-skill and consider dramatic career changes, regardless of their circumstance or background. And with geographical barriers removed, and flexible ways of working widely accepted, those that future-proof themselves for the digital economy will have quite literally everything to play for.
In CareerFoundry’s diversity report, we found that only 44% of our career changers had some kind of relevant experience before taking their chosen course, while 56% had none at all. This statistic demonstrates that with the correct support and learning framework, it’s never too late to expand your skill set or change career paths.
Martin Ramsin is the Founder and CEO of CareerFoundry, a leading provider of UX, UI, Data Analysis and Web Development courses helping working adults to change their career or learn new skills with a dedicated mentor and tutor to prepare a job-ready portfolio and land a job they love. Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.