What are the challenges to achieve sustainable employability?
Imagine for a moment that the labor market in the Netherlands was similar to the one in India. For argument’s sake, let’s only consider the formal labor market in India, which is still relatively small. Would our challenges and efforts to achieve sustainable employability be exactly the same? It would mean 28% of the Dutch population would be younger than 24 years old. And the younger working population, generation Y, would make up 65% of our total labor force. The average age of the labor force would be 27.7 years (instead of the current 41.7 years). Essentially, we’d have the youngest labor force in the world.
Great! All our problems related to sustainable employability would be solved. We wouldn’t have to do anything about it: we can just sit back and relax for a couple of years.
However, when we take a closer look, we see issues that hit home in the Netherlands too. On macro-level as well as on the level of individual employers. The challenge the Indian economy faces, is having to create more jobs because of the population growth. Necessary measures to that end are increasing labor flexibility and lowering administrative costs. Additionally, increasing productivity and efficiency are of great importance to the country’s competitiveness. So while these ideas might have originated on a different continent, it’s all eerily recognizable.
Indian employers struggle with a labor population that is young and well-educated, but the quality of that education isn’t always the best and ties between education and work are often missing completely. Moreover, the turnover amongst Indian employees is enormous: individual ambitions, higher wages and job title inflation play a huge role in this. Indian employers must face this issue head on and invest in (career) development within the organization, instead of forcing employees to look elsewhere. In other words they need to increase their commitment. These investments need to focus on meaningful development of the employee, so the increased wages will be compensated by a higher individual contribution to the organization’s results.
I think these challenges are the same for Dutch and Indian employers and employees: how do you continue to be employable in an increasingly more flexible labor market, with ever faster developments, and a pension age that keeps moving up? The answer is a combination of commitment in employability, investment in (individual) development and making sure you always add more value to an organization than you cost.
And while we’re at it, why not pretend we’re 28 instead of 42 years old for a moment.