Highlight Symposium: The European perspective of HRD

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Subject Professionals as flexible workers or portfolio people (Graham Guest)
Outline My main thesis is that there are great changes taking place in the nature of work, learning and the development of organisations. These issues are the bases for a debate on how professionals need to adapt to flexible working and to develop portfolio careers.
     The knowledge-society:  Knowledge is a valuable asset and many companies are putting a lot of resources into devising methods of identifying and capturing it.  For individuals wishing to survive and prosper in the modern world knowledge is vital.  We are seeing a rapid increase in the number of so-called knowledge-workers: professionals who are highly committed to their own learning, development and personal growth. 
     Lifelong learning:  It is considered normal for a person first to attend school and then to progress to university or college to gain a specific qualification.  In many instances that qualification is still thought to be sufficient to serve the person for life.  This was never really true, but now lifelong learning is increasingly being regarded as a necessity rather than an optional extra.  Continuing professional development (CPD) is an important facet of such learning.
     The virtual world:  Information and communications technology (ICT) expands people’s possibilities of working when, where and how they like.  An office or other workplace need no longer be geographically based, but can be located throughout cyberspace. The professional association EurEta (European Higher Engineering and Technical Professionals Association), for instance, is a virtual organisation that operates through email, the internet and so on.
     Networks:  Professionals can be members of a number of different networks through which they carry out their work, learning and development.  These networks, which can be physical or virtual, are fluid, flexible and highly responsive to change.  Even traditional organisations are coming to recognise the benefits of operating as networked entities. 
     Self-development:  Individuals can receive support for their lifelong learning and CPD from a number of sources, including their employer if they have one.  But ultimately each person is responsible for his or her own self-development, which has both personal and professional aspects.  To be fully effective such development must be clearly identified, planned, recorded and continually built upon. 
     The disappearance of the job:  It has been said that there is no such thing any more as a job for life; as we go through life we fulfil many functions.  It is more meaningful to talk about work rather than jobs, and our work can take different forms: paid, voluntary, purely for personal interest, and so on.  Too often an individual professional has been identified solely in terms of his or her role or job, but such perceptions are changing. 
     Portfolio people:  Flexible working patters and changes in the way we live are leading to the concept of a portfolio of work, for which the individual professional is responsible. Portfolio people have many loyalties, but if they are to be truly effective members of, and contributors to, the knowledge-society their first loyalty must be to themselves and their own personal and professional development.  In effect they are one-person businesses. 
Reference Thesis: included in Manning 2002a; paper: Guest 2002 (these two documents are focusing on the issue of portfolio people) 
Source Recording of the symposium
Descriptors D-CDO            
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO