Robots are a hot topic at the moment. The last few months have been rife with arguments about them taking over or replacing us. However, experts are generally agreed on one point: automation and artificial intelligence are going to transform the employment market, sooner than we think. While it often seems like they are in a competition to think of the daftest job title (Insect farmer/Garbage Designer/Plant Psychologist anyone?), futurologists have some very useful advice for today’s workers.
One trend that has been identified is the growth of the on-demand economy. Creative work has long been freelance, and companies such as Uber and Deliveroo have been some of the biggest success stories of recent years. This trend is set to creep into more traditional office-based roles. Thanks to the ease of remote work, companies are increasingly preferring to hire freelancers to solve problems, rather than taking on full-time staff.
As a result, workers are going to have be brilliant at branding, developing and marketing themselves, all the time. This doesn’t sound too different to the competitive job market today. Using social media such as Linkedin which allow you have your best skills endorsed by colleagues is a great start, while sites such as Upwork can be a great way of testing the waters in the freelance market.
Speaking of specialist skills, advances by AI into fields such as medicine, IT and law may mean that what were considered life-long professions will no longer offer opportunities for progression; as Professor Linda Gratton of London Business school puts it, ‘the career ladder may begin to look more like a career web.’ In order to adapt, workers will have to become life-long learners, diversifying their skills and exploring other professions. Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to gain new skills online: you can learn anything from business mandarin to leadership skills on sites like EdX, or gain an internationally recognised nanodegree in coding from Udacity, who guarantee a job a role in a top tech company if you enrol in their plus programme. Unsurprisingly, the jobs which are least at risk are those which require the most human skills: creativity, interpersonal communication and empathy. Roles such as sales, marketing and customer service are all predicted to grow as artificial intelligence will lag far behind in these areas.
All of these developments are going to present fascinating challenges for employers, employees and recruiters. More attention will need to be paid to candidates’ potential attributes, rather than traditionally acquired experience, while more flexibility and on-the-job training will need to be provided, to allow us all to keep up with the pace of change.
It might sound a bit scary, but personally I’m most looking forward to reading CVs from Data Disposal Men, Nostalgists and Underwater City designers!