Why 2018 could be a great year for EAs

We’ve all heard a friend, colleague or relation confidently pronounce the words “mark my words it will never catch on”, only for the object of the statement to become the next big thing – spotify, facebook, internet, The Internet of all Things, dvds, skinny jeans…..flared trousers. Forecasting can be a game for the foolish, but media outlets and membership organisations sit at the centre of a web of connections and content, and those of us who work within them are well placed to catch glimpses of what could be on the horizon. We’re lucky enough to be an organisation that’s both media outlet and membership, so here are our three predictions.

2018 will be the year of realisation and awareness

2018 will be less about technology and more about people

2018 will be about focus and quality

In 2017 we all got the message from experts (Executive PA Media included) and evangelists that AI & big data will either 1/ be the best thing ever 2/ cause the destruction of the world and 3/ everything else in between. By the 1st January 2018 though, we’ll all be bored of being the wide-eyed rabbit staring into the headlights of the oncoming technology juggernaut, we will take control and start to look for pragmatic ways to put technology to good use. As a result the evangelists will be doing less evangelising and more explaining the nitty gritty of how technology will affect our work, lives and communities. Jobs will continue to go but some new ones will be identified.

Social media is great way to connect with businesses and customers, but also a great consumer of our time. In 2018 businesses will worry less about the number of likes and friends on their social media feeds, and more about the quality of their service and whether they are properly meeting their customers’ needs. In turn they will spend less time counting customers and focus more on the customers that count. There will be more business and professional networking events, with more relevant, but fewer numbers of attendees and delegates. We will focus less on technology and more on human relationships.

Qualified educators will come back into fashion in 2018. The reduction in funding for vocational education and training over the past few years has produced a gap in the learning requirements of a workforce looking for the tools and skills to enable it adapt to the biggest shift in industry since the first industrial revolution, and the learning opportunities available. That gap has been partly filled by training organisations and individuals with questionable or no qualifications, with smart marketing messages and promises for their courses and conferences. Inevitably, the delivery hasn’t matched expectation and one positive conclusion is that potential delegates and students are inclined ask more questions before they embark on learning programmes. The true value of properly qualified educators and genuine experts will be re-discovered and people will be more prepared to invest in their future.

Personal branding is a concept that’s often misunderstood and the term professionalism will be used more in its place in 2018.

So why is 2018 going to great for you if you are an executive support professional?

You’re at the centre of change and even if you are the top of your game it will be vital to take a hard look at your vocational education and training. Communication between fellow colleagues and networking to identify best practice is an important element to professional development, but there’s a big difference between this and learning from a properly qualified educator. With 50% of all jobs set to go in the next 10 years and only a few of those jobs likely to be replaced with new ones, just “googling it” or “phoning a friend” are flimsy ways to project manage your career and future. However, your organisation is in the same boat as you, it needs to attract and keep talent and will be more prepared to invest in your training in 2018 than previous years.

As entry level jobs disappear, the role of the executive assistant has become a desired career of choice for many and not just one to fall into. 2018 will see more defined career paths for people entering the workforce through executive support, with more defined skillsets, training needs, proficiency levels and possibly paygrades. That’s good for everyone.

And last of all, administration management will always be central to your job, however you will be increasingly required to utilise your communication and critical thinking skills. Fundamentally this means more defined ambassador responsibilities and a requirement for you to take more measured risks. This has significant implications for executive level assistants at the peak of their careers and we have some big announcements to make in the new year on the subject.

Here’s to 2018!