#FutureWork [Pt 3] – Qualifications into Capability

Jo enjoyed talking to grandad about the old days, when he had a career, although she was secretly glad not to have had one herself. The idea of doing all your education at the start without really knowing what ‘work’ was like, and the notion of being beholden to one Organisation to keep you safe sounded extremely risky to her.

Jo doesn’t have a career: she has a series of opportunities, following on from her formal education. Opportunities give her space to do two things: to discover an area of work, and to discover a network that surrounds it. If there is a fit, she can be guided into a role, and provided with structured development and further opportunity based around that role. Some of this development is granular, self directed, and short, whilst other parts are long term and taught, introduced by mentors and community members (contextually according to what is needed), or even introduced by SAGE (the AI led system that determines need based on a meta analysis of the job role or talk).

In some areas, Jo find that she has rocketed ahead of her fellow graduates: she already sits on the D&I Board, despite only being 28 years old, a position she earned by contributing time to a research collective, where she demonstrated the ability to tell data led stories, and to forge politically powerful connections.

In other areas, she lags behind: having not yet had the opportunity to build project management skills, she relies on others in her network for that. Historically this would have been seen as a barrier to promotion, so she considers herself lucky that in her company, there is no promotion, because the hierarchy is dynamic, and contextual.

Still, keen to build a more rounded capability (as suggested to her both by her mentor, and by SAGE), she is considering several bids that have come in asking for her time in other companies: both are in her sector, and both are bidding for one day a week for her to help them with a year long Opportunity. Either of these bids would work well, incorporating some formal training, but more importantly, some access to a global expert in her chosen field. The Opportunity includes monthly expert clinics with this person, a prize that money alone cannot buy.

Whilst marvelling at the arcane nature of her grandads ‘career’, and the lack of opportunity he was given, she does harbour some concern that it is the extroverts who are enabled in her system, and also that opportunity is not equal (her friend with a two year old daughter misses out on some of these things). However, she is optimistic that the ways that salary is weighted heavily in favour of caregivers (rather than an old model that paid people who worked in big cities more). Essentially, whilst they do not both have the same opportunity, they both earn the same money, even though they do different hours. It seems a fair way to work, which is lucky, because when considering her next Opportunity, the Fairness Quotient is always a key factor in her decision.

For now, Jo is enjoying work, and allowing some distant corner of her mind to consider idly what she will study when she finally gets to 70 years old, and retires, to do her degree in the subject she has learnt the most about.

What Just Happened?

This is the second on my #FutureWork series, and considers an evolution where the backbone of employment is no longer ‘Qualifications’ and career, but rather ‘Opportunities’, within a more portfolio based experience.

In this context, we see key changes:

  • No longer do you do your formal study, and then work till you retire.
  • In this model, you may choose to study, or may choose (or bid for, or be approached for) opportunities.
  • These may be projects, or contracts, task based or time based.
  • Some of these include vocational training, some include mentoring or coaching, some include structured network access, and some include credits that can count towards eventual formal study.
  • There is much greater permeability, so an individual will typically take Opportunities across multiple Organisations, and some Opportunities are structured in this way.
  • Indeed, sometimes competitors create shared baseline capabilities which are targeted at what would historically have been graduate level, recognising the shared skills they all need.
  • Formal educational routes are still an option, and in some fields are essential, but financial reward is linked less to formal qualification, and more into demonstrated capability, which is built through more diverse routes.


This is the third of my #FutureWork stories. These are deliberately imperfect, and i am making no effort to ensure they are consistent or aligned. These are fragments of thought that may root or take hold.


About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
This entry was posted in Culture, Learning and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to #FutureWork [Pt 3] – Qualifications into Capability

  1. Pingback: #FutureWork [Pt 4] – Office into Ecosystem | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

  2. Pingback: An Organisation of Marketplaces | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

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