It can be reasonably agreed that nobody can truly know what the future will hold. In terms of jobs of the future, experts have made a few educated guesses. For example, The Institute for the Future released this infographic in 2011 depicting the six disruptive drivers that they suggest will encourage the need for 10 key skills of the future – at least, as far into the future as 2020. Lynda Gratton & Andrew Scott will be releasing their book “The 100 Year Life” in June, in which they challenge the idea of a 3 stage life – learn, work, retire – in the face of increasing longevity and new multi-staged lives. The Committee for Economic Development of Australia even released a fat report about the future of Australia’s workforce in 2015.
Photo Credit: http://www.iftf.org/futureworkskills/
Learning to Self-Manage
The ability to self-manage will probably be very important in the next 20 years. With barriers to business ownership decreasing, the future could turn out to be the freelancer’s oyster. If you’re averse to unemployment, there will probably be a time in your life when you will need to freelance out your skills between solid employment. Examining job distribution trends and the lack of growth in mid-skill range jobs, it might be reasonable to assume that if you do work for someone else, you’re going to need to know how to be self-managed. With job growth in the low and high skill areas increasing, there won’t be a middle-manager reminding you to do that thing you’ve forgotten about. Develop your emotional intelligence, get to know yourself and how you tick, and get familiar with a few methods of getting stuff done.
The Language of Code
Learn how to speak robot. By which I mean, computers and automation have already started to replace highly repetitive and functional tasks. A basic knowledge of how computers work and the language they speak (logic, mostly) will help you develop software to automate your own boring work to make room for something more interesting that someone might want to pay for. Learning a few code languages and exploring logical decision making will help you understand the limitations of technology in its current form and help you understand just how amazing it is when machines learn.
Photo Credit: https://xkcd.com/722/
Competing with Robots
Be better than a robot. The advantage you have over a robot is that you’re real enough to look real, whereas robots are either distinctly robotic or creepily not quite human. The uncanny valley isn’t much of a problem for a real human. It remains to be seen whether voice recognition and AI like Siri can adequately replace a human for general enquiries let alone more complex human interactions. So focus on those brilliantly unique human skills that make you valuable to humans – like problem-solving in a crisis, displaying compassion and empathy, and being adorably clumsy. Unless of course the robots take over. Then we’re probably stuffed.
Photo Credit: http://dilbert.com/strip/2013-3-25
Future-Proofing Your Skills
I think the greatest part of investing in the above skill sets is that even if the future is completely different (fax machine in every room, much?) is that they’re good skills to have anyway. If nothing changes in the next few years the skills required to achieve these things would be useful even if the world stayed the same. Most importantly, stay adaptable and don’t stop learning. And Don’t Panic.
Written By: Kimberley Harrison, Director of People & Culture