The UK and global job markets are changing rapidly, thanks in part to technological advancements that aren’t just changing how we work, but whether or not certain industries and specific job roles will even have a part to play in the future of business.
Being replaced by artificial intelligence isn’t the only risk that comes with technological advancements the hardware and software that we use in business is also constantly being improved and updated, a factor which requires human users to master new systems on an almost monthly basis. However, in this internet age of remote working, there is always someone out there who knows a system more comprehensively and can work ‘cheaply’ as a freelancer without the business overheads associated with employees (healthcare, insurance, equipment, etc.). This puts many workers at risk of having their work ‘outsourced’ if they cannot ensure their practical skills and knowledge are up to date in this fast-paced digital era.
The UK Business Support Profession, just like many other industries, are coming under pressure from these changes to the wider jobs market, and one of the key areas that could help to ensure that Business Support Professionals remain a valuable and essential asset for any business is training and professional development. Through increased access to personal and professional development training, EPAA believe that employed Business Support Professionals can remain competitive in the wider jobs market and bring value to a business that AI technology cannot.
In order to evaluate the current state of training and professional development opportunities within the EA/PA sector, and to gain a greater understanding of the unique needs and requirements of Business Support Professionals, EPAA carried out a survey as part of their ‘Time to Train’ campaign. The survey was open for just over two weeks in July 2017 and completed by 725 EA/PA professionals from across the United Kingdom (inclusive of the Isle of Man & Channel Islands). The survey featured 20 questions, with a combination of multiple choice questions and open questions, requiring a more detailed and personal written response from participants.
The results of the survey highlight not only the knowledge and experience of the respondents – over 70% of whom have undertaken EA/PA specific training at some point in their career (from BTECs and NVQs to Professional Diplomas and Degrees, and from software specific to ‘soft skills’ training), and 92.53% of whom engage in non-classroom learning activities such as reading, networking, e-learning and webinars to ensure they are informed about the latest developments in the industry – but also the fact that for many EAs and PAs, formal training isn’t a regular occurrence. Indeed, 63.18% of respondents advised that they last completed training more than 4 years ago, which is a significant break in terms of their professional development when you consider how rapidly areas like IT and Communication are changing in business.
A more focussed effort needs to be made across the UK, to draw away from the more traditional aspects of training for Business Support Professionals. Instead the industry needs to aim and pitch higher, and truly understand what it is, that EAs are delivering to their organisations.
A greater significance needs to be placed on business management and all that this entails, along with truly understanding and working with artificial intelligence, which will only enhance the role for many, who choose to open their mind to it.
We look forward to working with employers and Business Support Professionals across the country, as we continue our journey on professionalising the UK EA/PA profession.
For EPAA Members, the full report is available within the members area of our website.
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