The future of employment
Present pursuits determine future attainments. Society has been in a continuous swirl of adaptation since the start of 19thcentury with the mechanisation of labour and then in 20thcentury with the management of labor. The end of 20thcentury ushered in the connected Internet so much so that in the 21stcentury we are in the midst of Internet of Everything., also known as IoT.
Rapid development in the field of biotech, information technology, artificial intelligence, automation, 3D printing and many others is witnessed and sometimes begs the question – what problems is this trying to solve? Some of the technologies are still in a hovering kind of stage where applications are yet to get commercial deployment, while some have impacted the way industry used to being operated earlier.
Understandably and many a times painfully this has an effect on changing the jobs landscape. While we people and our ancestors are no strangers to relearning and adapting to the changing business environment, the individual that is forced through the change feels the pain in its full enormity. Then there are those who read the changes, then anticipate the impact and proactively pass through the change needed to adapt themselves in the new age.
A study conducted in 2016 by World Economic Forum – The Future of Jobs – dwells upon the future employment scenario, skills that would be in demand and the workforce strategy needed to power the fourth industrial revolution.
Let’s go over the highlights from this study to get the possible impact from the profound changes.
Drivers of Change
The surging raft of digital driven technologies is forging new approaches to deliver superlative results. While this presents opportunities for those who adapt and are the early-to-market guys, this becomes a threat to those with sunk heavy investments in the legacy ways of conducting business and caused them to be disrupted. Industrial disruptive changes are impacting the employment and skills requirement today and for tomorrow. According to various futurist researchers, this change is divided into demographic & socio-economic and technological drivers of change as categorized below:
Demographic & Socio-Economic drivers of change
Technological drivers of change
According to the above charts, the analysis depicts that demographic & socio-economic drivers of change has started impacting the employment and skills on a larger scale whereas technological drivers will start to impact appreciably in the coming five years or even earlier.
Skill sets need change
For the last 20,000 years, the human brain stem has formed to be used for the autonomous and survival functions i.e. breathing and flight or fight mode. This came in handy during the rock ages.
With evolution over the last 5,000 years the brain developed further as the Memory function housed in the central area developed into prominence and we humans relied on pattern recognition and memory archiving to settle into the agrarian economy.
The transformation from the agrarian age to the Industrial age and now the Information Age has happened over the last 200 years. This is a time when pattern recognition alone is not enough and we need to draw upon the Thinking faculties of the forebrain which is a very recent phenomenon.
Given that the jobs available to do are transforming – the majority of the people will need to lay down the inertia and activate the critical thinking and creative side of their brains to stay relevant in the Information economy.
The Top 3 skills needed by 2020 will rely on the capability and training of the human mind to develop creative solutions and innovative approached to stand out and also stay contemporary amid technological disruptions around us.
Re-skilling needs acceleration
Having an open mind to understand the change is crucial and this comes only from a positive being foundation. If you run scared of the impact on and around you, you close your mind to the possibilities of what could be. Progressive companies with visionary leadership see this change and work to ameliorate the learnings across the organisation by engaging Executive Coaches and learning agents. The management rung of the organisation cannot be like a ‘reindeer-in the headlights’ - rather it needs to appreciate the environment and reassert strategy to tackle the change..one of which is to acquire new learning and be a Coach for the extended teams.
A relevant example is the visionary leadership of HH Sheikh Mohammed of the UAE – who not only set out his vision for his people to understand but also has been a strident catalyst in getting the learnings absorbed across various government services. The effort of the last 10 years is starting to show in the various Smart government initiatives taken by young government leaders in the country and the resultant rise of UAE to become the Happiest Country in the Middle east in 2017.
There are those who will be blind sided with the barriers to re-skilling and new learnings. Let’s examine some of these barriers as we too would chance upon some of them in our daily grind.
Barriers to new learnings:
- Lack of appreciation of the disruptive technological fuelled environment
- Typical focus on short term results
- Company manpower strategy is not defined and limited to routine HR Admin practices
- Lack of visionary leadership that works on previous laurels and experiences only
- Access to Resources
What is the future of jobs
As corporates are forced to induct automation to stay competitive, Managers could see the positive impact of AI and Automation on their speed and quality of decision making.
Here’s an example I was impressed with. In one project, a team from the University of Oxford’s Department of Computer Science has developed a new AI system called LipNet – that aims to read lip movements and form sentences from visual acuity. When tested, the system could identify 93.4 percent of words correctly vs. human lip-reading volunteers at just 52.3 accuracy. This indicates the possibility of AI at automating routine management functions and analysing worker performance.
What is needed to attract new and develop existing talent? Organisations and HR leaders will need to initiate and lead efforts for cultural change, where 4 to 5 generations of employees could be working alongside each other in teams. Leaders will need to create a workforce with digital skills and a willingness to embrace the digital economy.
CHROs will also need to balance the culture between the full-time personnel and the talent based outsourcing that is likely to increase as specialist talent may be available on more and more on interim basis.
Jobs will be created in the new age economy for people with greater social skills, numerical thinking and analytical capability, design thinking, problem solving approaches, comfort around new media, cross cultural competencies.
The new areas of job creation will likely hover around Business applications, new age Transportation, Genetics, Robotics, renewable Energy, Automated Agri business, Sensors across various applications and Leadership of all things Digital.