Professional Updating is Vital

, by Andrea Costa
Marco Ceresa (CEO of Randstad Italia and Bocconi alumnus) outlines the factors that will influence the professions of tomorrow, from the growing importance of worklife balance to the advent of artificial intelligence. A challenge for people, but also for companies

By 2027, 23% of jobs will have changed. According to the latest report on the future of employment released by the World Economic Forum, within three years there will be 69 million new jobs, while 83 million will be eliminated. "But the biggest change taking place today is how people, especially younger generations, perceive work and careers", comments Marco Ceresa, who graduated in Business Administration from Bocconi in 1986 and is now Group CEO of Randstad Italia, which he himself started over 20 years ago. According to Randstad's Workmonitor 2024 research, in fact, rather than a career as an end in itself or a higher salary, what is sought today is a better balance between life and work. "Today the connection between the company and its human resources is, let's say, utilitarian".

What is changing?
Today no one expects to work in the same company for all their lives, and relationships with the company are therefore based on very concrete considerations. The sense of belonging is now increasingly fleeting and it is no longer acceptable to devote an exorbitant amount of time to work. We saw it in the latest edition of the Workmonitor research that Randstad conducted around the world: 60% of interviewees consider private life more important than their profession, and in the scale of priorities the balance between time spent at work and time for oneself is as important as one's salary and more important than anything else including one's career. The growing polarization of earnings between those who earn ever more and all the others who find it increasingly difficult to defend their standards of living also contributes to this chasm between employees and the companies they work for.

Are there other important trends underway?
There are many, but I would single out three in particular. First of all, the world is increasingly permeable: until a few years ago expats were relatively few and belonged to a global elite, while today it is increasingly normal to go to work in other countries because job opportunities are increasingly designed with an international organization of work in mind. Second, useful skills change so quickly that it requires continuous efforts at professional updating to avoid being left out. The third "megatrend" I see is a consequence of the fact that there are fewer young people (at least in rich countries) and this has profoundly changed the relationship between company and employees. Let me explain better: those who are young now saw their parents identify a lot with their companies, but these did not hesitate to get rid of them once the time came. It's not only that they feel stronger with employers because they are fewer in number, but also that young people are more wary.

How will work change with the increasingly intensive use of artificial intelligence in the company?
I go back to what I said before about the need to always keep up with the times, to continually invest in oneself so as not to be marginalized by employment trends. Artificial intelligence is and will be a great help for certain professional profiles, but it will evidently make others disappear. After all, this has been the case with every major technological breakthrough. The lower segments of the workforce will not be heavily affected, in my opinion. And not even the highest paid segments, as long as they continue to update their skills. The problem will be for the middle segment, where I see the greatest risk in perspective. The polarization I was talking about is also due to this.

We have talked so far about people. How are companies changing?
Companies tend to conform to two models. Some essentially look for high-potential employees, to whom they give a lot and from whom they expect even more if possible. It is clear that these are very competitive environments in which the "grow or leave" rule applies. Then there are companies that try to establish a constant dialogue with their human resources in order to have a shared picture of the strengths and limitations of each individual, trying to avoid the formation of unrealistic expectations but giving everyone the opportunity to reach their maximum potential. These are truly inclusive companies, a very fashionable word today but not always corresponding to reality.

Is inclusivity the new challenge for companies?
This is certainly one of the challenges, but I also see a stronger demand for integrity, at all levels. Also on this front it must be said that sometimes we only make cosmetic interventions or repeat fashionable slogans without conviction, but the trend is unmistakable. This may be due to the fact that companies feel more influenced by the public than in the past, but in the end this is not very important. The important thing is that improper or unethical behavior is no longer tolerated, and this applies to whether we are talking about senior managers or ordinary employees.