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26 NOVEMBER 2017

written by Mike

ECONOMY AND

JOBS OF THE FUTURE

Automation, self-driving cars, artificial intelligence and robots.

If you read any technological blogs or futuristic predictions, then I would be surprised if you didn’t recognise any of these terms. It all sounds like something from a sci-fi movie. However, if you look close enough, you will see the change unfolding before your eyes.

Many people think that the change will be sudden and disruptive. The statement is both true and false.

Ten years ago smartphones were just being introduced; now we can’t imagine living without them. But because we live through the change, we don’t see it as sudden.

This short post won’t be about the technological shift; I’m not an expert on the subject however as a freelancer and business owner it is part of my job to always be on the lookout. Let’s think what changes are more than likely come out shortly and how you and I can prepare ourselves.

The topic is just a short extension of ideas from people like Elon Musk, Peter Diamandis, Seth Godin and others. They talk about the coming switch, they warn us about the possible ramifications.

The one that may have the biggest impact on the current job market is automation

People like Diamandis often put abundance society and automation in one sentence, however, a big change won’t come without pain. 3D printing may disrupt manufacturing world as we know it, more and more factories are using robots rather than human beings, and with time the speed of the replacement will pick up.

Let’s look at modern supermarkets; you already have self-service scanning bays that replace the cashiers – now imagine a product scanners similar to airport security checks in every shop. You push the trolley through it, and it scans all the products in it. No doubt it will come and replace even more people on the floor, Amazon has already tried something similar.

It won’t just be simple jobs, any task that can be put in an algorithm can eventually be replaced – Accounting, finance services, law, health diagnosis, programming.

BBC has an interesting service that ‘predicts’ how likely your job could be replaced.

Sooner or later someone will come up with a new app, new software and unfortunately, it will replace the people. What is more cost efficient? People with salaries, benefits and bonuses working 8 hours a day?

Or a piece of code that can run 24/7?

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This change will present a new view of work and jobs. The terms such as gig economy or on-demand economy have been featured in most reports on future of work. The people who favour it say that you will get paid for the value you bring, you will get chosen for projects best suited for you, you will do work based on your strengths.

On the other side, we have voices that say that the gig economy does not guarantee workers rights, benefits or security. Both are right, and it will take a time till the society gets it right. 

Looking at it from my perspective, I made a list of a few pros and cons that will affect people close to me, and me.

Pros:

People will do what they are good at; automation will replace simple jobs, and we will be able to focus on creativity and problem solving rather than repetitive tasks.

You won’t be constricted to one place. Gig economy means that you can move wherever you like and still keep the same job as most work will be done over the internet. A lot of younger people prefer the freedom of choice over the stability.

Learning and development. A rapid change means that we will need to keep updating our skills and knowledge, the real studying starts when you leave the university, not when you are there. Lifelong learning will be necessary to keep up with the change.

Global connection. Working with people all around the world is already taking place and in the next few decades may become the standard. A lot of people see outsourcing as a means of cheap labour. I see it as a means of finding the best people in the world to do the job, beyond your city or country. Latest Pro Tools cloud functions give a preview of what is to come in the future.

Of course, not everything will be rosy, and change comes with pain. I can see that there will be a few negative aspects of the on-demand economy too.

 

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Cons:

Stable employment. It may be harder for people who prefer stability and staying in one place. When the jobs shift to a cloud, you either adapt or may be forgotten.

A lot of jobs will vanish. Yes, every economic shift creates new jobs however it means retraining people and acquiring new skills. It may be hard for some to adjust, especially when being accustomed to a place of work.

Protests. Not everyone may like it but globalisation is coming, and we can’t stop it. Protesting companies like Uber may slow it down, but eventually, the change will come, and a lot of people may stay behind.

Adjustment. Internet and new technologies change much faster than we can comprehend and most people are not adjusted to such rapid changes. It may scare and anger a lot of people. New training will need to be provided, so older generations are not left behind the shifts in the global economy.

The change will come in our lifetime. For some it will be good, for some, it may have a negative impact on lives.

My questions are – how to prepare? How can I secure my place in the future?

Flexibility is the key, the time when you hold a job for 40 years are mostly gone, and we are almost certain to have multiple careers throughout our lives.

What can you and I do today to start adjusting?

Find part-time jobs. Not in the local business or store but online. On top of your normal work, start experimenting with new technologies, social media and internet opportunities.

Learn new skills. Platforms such as Upwork release most demanded skill reports all the time. Study it and see if there is something that interests you, something that you could start learning today.

Do something radical for a test. Maybe there is something that you always wanted to do but never had a time for it? The internet allows for limitless trial and error endeavours; there isn’t a better time than now to try something new.

The change won’t be rapid and won’t happen on a set date. We don’t see it because we live it every day, but when we step outside and look on what is happening and what changed in the last 10-20 years, you can start seeing the trends and that they aren’t stopping – they are picking up the pace.

Instead of being afraid, let’s prepare for it and be excited.

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