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Globalisation is a reality – but are we ready for it?

Right now you can’t go a day without hearing about the EU referendum and the impact it could have on our economy. But whatever your stance may be, the UK will still continue to be part of the global economy.  

When we talk about globalisation, we mean the amalgamation of economies, industries, cultures and policies across the world; when national and regional economies integrate and organisations develop an international influence.

Globalisation is very much a reality in today’s world. For example, PwC predicts that global mobility will increase by 50%, as more people will move out of their home countries to pursue careers elsewhere. And research from McKinsey Global Institute suggests that 400 midsize emerging-market cities will generate nearly 40% of global growth over the next 15 years.

So what’s the impact on businesses and individuals?

Well firstly, globalisation creates competition. Businesses have to compete against more organisations, both in their home country, and in other countries across the world. So the need to stand out and deliver the best products and customer services is greater than ever. Globalisation also brings employment to new regions. When businesses expand into new markets, it creates job opportunities, which in turn boosts the economy. And for existing employees, it means more opportunities to travel, or even relocate for work.

On the flip side, globalisation also brings challenges, such as a need to understand different cultures, or potentially learn new languages and business practices. Likewise, teams can be spread across the world, in different locations and time zones. It means working with and managing people in a very different way.

Globalisation is already having a significant impact on businesses and individuals alike. But what’s concerning is that many people are unaware of this, or recognise the impact it could have on them.

In the City & Guilds Group’s Skills Confidence report, we surveyed 8,000 people from the UK, US, South Africa and India to gain insight into how confident employees feel about their skills for the future world of work. Surprisingly, 31% of all respondents said globalisation will not impact their job prospects over the next decade.

And when asked what skills they needed to develop for the future world of work, only 18% of UK respondents cited knowing how to work in a multi-national environment as important for their job prospects in five years’ time, rising only slightly to 21% when considering 10 years’ time. What’s more, only 8% of UK respondents recognise this skill as lacking in their organisation.

So why is there so little awareness about it? And why is this an issue?

The main problem is, if people aren’t aware of globalisation, they won’t be able to prepare for whatever changes it may bring in the future. This puts both individuals and businesses at a disadvantage.

Businesses have a responsibility here, to nurture their workforce and prepare them for the changing world of work. That means bringing staff along with them; telling them about future changes that could affect the workplace, encouraging them to develop the skills they need in a global economy; and actively planning and investing in the right training and development initiatives to develop their employees’ skills. It also means empowering people to take control of their own development – helping them recognise the skills they need to develop, encouraging them to enhance their skills and supporting them with training.

Globalisation – like other trends, such as automation, labour mobility, artificial intelligence and so on – will have a profound effect on the world of work. British workers are not immune from this. Their lack of awareness, and indeed their confidence about how prepared they are for the future, is potentially damaging, not only to them but also their employers – and therefore the economy. 

It’s vital to prepare people as much as possible, so that people and organisations continue to succeed in the next 5, 10 and 25 years. To be confident about the future, we must not be complacent about our place in it. 

Chris Jones, Chief Executive of City & Guilds Group 

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