Career mobility is directly related to personal satisfaction, job advancement, and career development. It ensures people, over time, move to job roles suitable to their skills, goals, and aspirations.
The workplace is continually changing. The roles we perform are continually evolving. Our attitudes toward our careers also shift. We want meaningful jobs matching our needs and wishes. Our jobs fuel our ability to pursue and achieve our goals at any given point in time. Traditional organisational structures are also evolving into organisations with low to no hierarchy and shifting reporting lines. These emerging workplaces require a different career lens.
Take ownership of your career
Career Mobility has also changed. Traditionally defined career ladders and paths are disappearing. Agility, breadth of knowledge, and experiential learning and development opportunities are transforming how employees seek out new opportunities. These new approaches allow us to take control of our careers. Leaning into improved learning, development, and career conversation opportunities, we can create individual career journeys, setting our course, and taking responsibility to reach our destination.
Lateral moves gaining momentum
Lateral (sideways) moves, previously acknowledged as unfavourable, are no longer regarded as side-lining. On the contrary, gaining experience through a series of lateral positions broadens our knowledge of an organisation or industry sector. Taking a role at a similar level creates a more holistic view of the business, expands our network, and demonstrates that all-important agility.
What’s your approach for career mobility?
You spot an opportunity.
You might find a lateral opportunity and decide to explore whether this is the right opportunity for you at this moment in time. You could use questions similar to those below to make an informed choice.
- what skills are essential for me to have?
- what specific new skills will I learn?
- what part of this opportunity would be the most challenging for me?
- how will this opportunity expand my network?
- how might this open up opportunities to other positions?
- how will this look on my CV?
- does this enhance my marketability?
You look for development options.
Instead of waiting for an opportunity to arise, you decide how you to augment your existing skill set to move towards that next role. You might do this by looking at other job descriptions, but that's not necessarily the most effective way.
You explore a new skills framework.
An alternative way to proactively identify your next move is to explore a skills framework; there are many out there. The first step is to identify the right framework based on the direction you’d like to take your career. The type of organisation you want to create is also a factor. Cross-government, there are 25 recognised professions. Each of the government professions has developed a competency framework to raise standards, promote collaboration, and career development opportunities.
Align skills with technology advances
Technology is an enabler, not an end in itself. It exists to improve people's lives, increase productivity, help us communicate. One thing we can be sure of is technology will continue to advance, and as a society, we will continue to adapt to these changes.
Apprenticeships are not only for people at the start of their careers. At BPDTS, we want to help our people develop their skills right through their career. By design, our apprenticeships support a broader demographic of employees with different skill types and varying levels of experience within the organisation. Right now, we have more than 50 people involved in our latest apprenticeship cohort. They are pursuing a range of qualifications starting at the certificate and diploma level right through to a Master’s degree.
To ensure the capabilities of our highly-skilled employees align with the pace technology is changing, we are future skilling the organisation. For instance, anticipating our customer, the DWP, will retire more and more legacy technologies and services, we have a tremendous opportunity to play an active role in helping to shape and influence these transitions. For example, we are proactively moving our employees towards cloud-first, DevOps, and Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) postures.
In collaboration with other organisations, we are developing additional apprenticeships in emerging technology areas, such as DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering (SRE). Helping our people develop critical T-shape skills underpins the thinking behind all of our apprenticeship areas.
A springboard for career mobility
We recognise individual development is personal. Rather than set rigid pathways for people, we focus on what it takes to future skill different capability areas within our organisation and look to provide several products to enable and support our people in their choice.
But, you can't transform skill sets and develop new capabilities in a vacuum. Identifying and creating new pathways is not based on a single decision. You create pathways through a series of smaller choices along a journey – not one decision. You have to step back and assess if you are creating the correct path for the right individual. If you want to move a cohort to get them from a role with 6 – 12 months' worth of longevity into something lasting for 5 years or more, the process of mapping that journey across multiple people can make a huge impact – with decisions made incrementally.
Transform the future workforce
Developing a highly-skilled, agile workforce with a deep understanding of our customer is a vital aspect of any digital transformational journey. Our apprenticeship offerings allow BPDTS to transform the skills landscape to support the Department for Work and Pension’s extensive digital transformation. Our use of apprenticeships ensures we retain and retrain the employees who possess invaluable knowledge of how DWP operates.
Creating the apprentice cohort for our existing staff is a key enabler for career mobility. Removing the restrictions of more traditional and rigid career paths, we are developing opportunities that previously were unseen or not thought possible, while eliminating any preconceptions about the role apprenticeships play in our evolving workplace.
Look beyond the horizon
The pace of change across industries shows no signs of slowing. Disrupters and customers are continually shaping the services of the future. Gaining a new perspective on how we maintain our capabilities while retaining valuable knowledge and insight is something all organisations need to consider. It's no longer as simple as completing a single piece of learning in an emerging area. For some people, this means a wholesale change of direction.
When coupled with changes in expectations of what people want from their careers and work-life balance, we need to keep exploring ways to make this a reality and keep both our services and our people relevant.
Interested in learning more about career mobility? National Apprenticeship Week is a great time to start. The following books and articles can help:
- Up Is Not the Only Way: Rethinking Career Mobility
- Career Mobility: The Secret to Employee Retention
- 3 Benefits of Internal Career Mobility
- Career Research: Career Mobility
- Career mobility: why it matters and three important ways to make it better
- From Career Mobility to Opportunity Mobility