No one knows what the future will be like.
Some people are very positive about the great things that will come. Great technological breakthroughs are already changing our world. Many look on and wonder at the great new inventions and evolutions that could make life so much easier.
However, for many the future looks grim. Many look on in fear as technologies steal jobs, as national boundaries disappear and as ways of life are challenged every day.
Whichever way you look at the future, to be successful you will need to plan for what it might look like and be prepared.
Read on to find out more.
1. The future is Independent.
It has become clear that the old frameworks of employment no longer fit the economy of the future.
The old formula of get a good education, get a good job, then go to the top and enjoy a pension in your golden years no longer applies today.
In future, employees will be expected to be a lot more flexible in their careers and work patterns.
Employers and even the government are becoming less able to cater to old fashioned dependent systems of employment.
Long story short, the future of employment is looking a lot more independent.
In the future economy, people will need to be a lot more independent and more responsible for their financial health.
Going forward, workers will need to understand their earning potential and their life expectancy and budget and plan for their whole life.
Unfortunately, these are not skills taught at traditional high schools, or even universities.
Building on this idea is the revelation that work in the future is also changing drastically.
2. The future is Fluid:
Today, and much more likely in the future, the idea of work is no longer the concept of arriving at work at nine, doing an honest day, and leaving by five.
Also, the concept of a factory or an office, or a showroom is changing.
Firstly, factories are being taken over by robots and automated machinery. Secondly, showrooms are more and more becoming digital places without real people or products. And lastly, the office is fast becoming a laptop and a cup of coffee in a home office or a rented workspace.
This gross generalising may be a bit over the top, but this is certainly the trend. Companies are looking to cut overheads at all costs and downsize from solid corporate structures to more fluid team like structures that are more flexible and efficient.
These issues have been pointed out by McKinsey & company:
First, there’s the question and discussion around the impact of artificial intelligence, automation on work and jobs, and whether we’ll have enough work and jobs left after that.
A second part of the conversation is around the changing models for work and work structure. This involves questions around independent work, the gig economy, and what people sometimes refer to as fissured work—whether people work as outsourced services or not.
This idea of outsourcing shows that even populations will be fluid. It also shows that the future will be increasingly global, a problem we’re dealing with already, and more flexible.
Workers are in completion with other employees from all over the globe. This should be of particular concern for workers in first world countries. The traditional working-class jobs are being challenged by machinery and technology. And the manual human jobs are challenged by cheaper labour from across the seas.
3. The future is global!
It is undeniable, the world is global and as much as some people would like to turn back the clock, I don’t think we can turn back time.
As the New Skills at Work report, by JPMorgan Chase & Co has indicated:
In the space of less than 20 years, over 1 billion people have been added to what might be termed the ‘global market economy’. This has created opportunities, and many firms have succeeded in selling into the new markets that have been opened up in China and elsewhere. But it has also created threats. Low-paid workers have undercut workers in developed economies, and there has been a major transfer of production to emerging economies, with a consequent reduction in the demand for relatively low-skilled workers in developed economies.
It’s impossible to say how the future will look, but it is clear that workers will need to adapt.
Employees will need to be aware of their skills and their local advantages. They will need to know their place in the global scheme and work very hard to make themselves valuable.
It’s not all bad news for employees. It’s true there are still many great opportunities in the new economy and I’m not trying to paint a horrible picture of globalization.
I actually believe that the future looks very bright. Global cooperation is key to solving many of the world’s problems. And technology can make life better for everyone.
However, one thing is certain, those workers who are unable to adapt to the new world order will most likely struggle to find a place.
Even those who do, will need to prove their value and be prepared to be very flexible.
4. The future is Flexible
The new economy, workplace and workforce will no longer be solid and static it will need to be flexible.
There will be more shift work and less structured hours.
Instead of nine – five, employees will most likely be on free floating timetables, set by the needs of customers and/or the industry.
No longer will workers and employers look at Sundays as sacred and weekends as special. The job will decide how time is allocated and employees will need to make their lives fit the job.
The immediate inclination for many will be to bemoan the loss of precious time and losing control of the traditional workweek. However, the new 24/7 economy, once humans adapt to it, has great potential to be a good evolution.
The new flexible workweek offers chances for great flexibility in time management; whether it’s parents who need to adapt their schedule to look after children, or students working part time and studying, to any number of scenarios. The new work week will offer great potential to be flexible and achieve more through improved efficiency.
Finally, and I bet you can’t believe I left it until last:
5. The future is Technology.
Well not exactly last, consequences of technology have been central tenants of most of the issues mentioned above.
But yes, it’s true, the world is digital.
Digitization of assets, including infrastructure, connected machines, data, and data platforms;
Digitization of operations, including processes, payments and business models, and customer and supply chain interactions; and
Digitization of the workforce, including worker use of digital tools, digitally skilled workers, and new digital jobs and roles.
… All this will require ongoing adaptation and transition by workers in terms of skills, activities, companies, and even the sectors they work in. James Manyika
All of this new technology will perhaps be easily adaptable for younger generations. However, there are still many less digitally literate people like myself, who will surely struggle with using and understanding the new technology.
This constant stream of new technology and its capabilities will enforce a need for employees to update in the use of said technology. This will mean a need for workers to be always plugged in and continuously learning.
Some final thoughts:
Exactly what the future will look like is impossible to say.
This article has at times sounded rather gloomy on the subject. This is not my intent, however, in all things I’ve been taught to approach them with a very cynical approach. The approach I chose to take is to hope for the best, but expect the worst. That way we can be inspired by the flexibility, creativity, and ingenuity of what the future holds, while also being very prepared for the possible problems.
For while technology and the changes of the new generations’ values and mode of operation has, and will continue, to bring great new ways of doing thing, it will undoubtedly bring new challenges. The most obvious issues are for those who find themselves in the lower echelons of the economic pecking order.
For the lower skilled workers, workers who have through no fault of their own, not adapted to the new necessities of the global, technological, fluid, and flexible economy there will be a seriously steep learning curve.
This will certainly bring serious issues of health, not just physical, but mental and emotional health as humans’ sense of efficacy are challenged.
It will also bring into play serious political issue, which we are beginning to see with Trump’s ‘wall’ and his ‘trade war’. (I say Trumps, but I know he is merely a representative of a strong portion of the voting public. And that portion is not only represented in America.)
These and many other issues that we may not even be able to perceive have the ability to make the future very disruptive.
Some solutions that we will follow up on in future articles:
Perhaps the best and only solution is to begin to understand the work culture of the future. If workers and students can now begin to think of the future as a much more dynamic environment and plan their careers they will begin to be more flexible and more able to adapt to the economic movements of the future.
Workers must also develop the skills needed to engage with the new world industries that are creating the future.
Key skills that I believe will be absolutely vital include:
- Critical thinking and Creativity,
- Communication and literacy,
- Computer and digital literacy,
- The ability to network, and an understanding of branding, marketing, self and business management,
- Business and financial literacy, sales, negotiating, accounting, entrepreneurial skills, basic legal understanding,
Not to mention personal skills like knowledge about diet, health, hygiene, health and safety, reproduction and so-on and so on. While many of these things seem obvious, new viruses, biotechnologies, and procedures will change the future of the human body. At the very least we need to stay up to date with these developments.
The future will be challenging for many I believe, but with the right education and skill set, it will also be a wildly opportune time for people who have the capabilities to adapt and make the most of it.
On my path to success I plan to do a complete study of these skills and seek to find ways to implement them in my teaching.
Click here to read about developing the key skill of ‘creativity‘.