Over the past few years, we have seen the workforce and talent models evolve in response to the trends around technology, demographics and profit models. Flexible organization boundaries, “liquid workforce” and accessing talent in an extended ecosystem are increasingly becoming the norm. Specialization is valued now more than ever before and at the same time, there is a constant need to upskill and reskill to adapt to new jobs and new roles. While organizations think about how to adapt in this context, how should employees and job seekers prepare for the future?
Some jobs are simply going to be redundant. Any job that can be done faster and cheaper by automation will not be staffed by a human being. Jobs that include standardized and repeatable tasks will be moved to bots or other forms of ‘digital’ workforce. Also, it is very likely that some elements of most jobs will be perceived as better done by automation, which means we can expect many jobs to be reshaped.
In this scenario, proactive reskilling and high learning ability would be critical. All workers, whether fully employed or independent, should critically examine their skill-sets and work content, and look at how they can update or learn new skills to stay relevant. The velocity of this continuous learning may vary across industries, for instance, it will be very high for workers in the technology sector, but it will apply to a greater or lesser extent for all workers. In many industries or job roles, the requirement may be for a complete reinvention.
Reinvention may be the norm, but it is important to build the ‘new you’ based on your strengths. Successful workers will take a broader view of their skill-sets rather than define it too narrowly. For instance, a technology platform could change, but some fundamentals of system thinking and architecture will still be valuable. Core skill sets in value chain analysis can be used across a range of roles — the principles of account management and sales pipeline management can apply, with sufficient adaptation, to multiple industry sectors. Taking a broader view of core capabilities and skill-sets will make reinvention less daunting.
Organizations will have a big role to play in driving skill relevance. While the primary onus will be on individuals to hone their capabilities, organizations can put in place several supporting frameworks and infrastructure. Initiatives such as skill cluster categorization and mechanisms to incentivize new skill acquisition can ensure a dynamic talent market, where individuals align skill building with the organization’s need.
Further, organizations can leverage learning content from multiple platforms, but it will become increasingly important to deliver this learning in innovative ways such as using techniques of learning sciences and gamification.
At the end of the day, automation is going to make lives and jobs better. Automation of the more routine elements of a job can make it more interesting and challenging. Similarly, the time gained by automating tasks can be used for job enrichment, or simply for more leisure. Teams of the future will comprise both humans and machines and this combination can drive a lot of productivity and value. Technology has already helped drive down costs in many sectors such as transport, healthcare and pharmaceuticals. The lower cost of living, along with the time released as a result of automation, could mean a better quality of life on multiple fronts.
In summary, it is a brave new world out there that requires job holders to continuously adapt, build new skills and be willing to unlearn, relearn and reinvent. It is not for the faint hearted, but at the same time, it is one that offers tremendous opportunities. The winners will include individuals who embrace these opportunities to keep learning, and organizations that create a dynamic talent marketplace that facilitates this.