The workplace of today is so different to the workplace of 50 or even 25 years ago; it has changed completely. Everything is faster, more immediate, more accessible and more global. The workforce itself is more geographically dispersed, more transient and less tied to the physical workplace, with technology, of course, underpinning a lot of these changes.
We now regularly speak of the gig economy, multi-generational workforces and zero hours contracts – terms which weren’t even thought of 25 years ago. The concept of a job for life is now gone. It’s perfectly acceptable to spend just two or three years in a role, building a portfolio career or having several careers during one’s working life.
Our ability to create and innovate means it’s easy to see how the fourth industrial revolution is a powerful catalyst for disruptive business models. Cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things and cloud computing are not only driving industry advancement, they’re also driving technological convergence.
We’re already starting to see the development of crowdsourced antibiotic research and floating agricultural farms. Soon our biometric ‘brain-print’ could be used as the ultimate security password and clothing could give people superhuman skills in the future – but only if we have the right high-level skills to develop and work with these new technologies.
Skills for jobs that don't yet exist
Not everyone aspires to a career in nanotechnology or artificial intelligence (AI), but it’s clear to see the growing demand for digital skills for the future world of work. From developing software and designing digital platforms to managing IT projects and analysing business data, having the skills necessary to provide technology-enabled solutions is now a standard requirement.
Even in non-technical roles, the ability to understand metrics and data, new software and systems and the logic and code that underpins application design is fast becoming a must have even today (think digital marketing, FinTech and EdTech, for example). And it’s not just computer science skills that are in demand – high-level STEM skills in pharmaceuticals, chemistry, physical sciences and life sciences are key to solving crucial business challenges.
According to the World Economic Forum, it’s estimated that 65% of children entering primary school today will likely work in roles in the future that don’t currently exist now. And what will be on the minds of those young children? Whereas Baby Boomers and Generation X might have dreamt of becoming firefighters, landscape gardeners or graphic designers, what’s to say future children won’t dream of becoming cybercrime fighters, biotechnologists or robot designers?
One thing’s for sure, our ability to innovate – to imagine a world where trains travel at 760mph and robots have personalities – is a driving force for technological advancement and it’s creating a hunger for high-level knowledge and skills that’s difficult to satisfy.
How can organisations make sure they have access to the knowledge they need in order to make innovative breakthroughs? What can they do if they lack the skills and knowledge in-house to solve business challenges?
The future of work is collaborative
If we truly want to prepare for the future of work, gain access to the skills needed to survive and thrive in 10, 20, 30 years’ time, and take full advantage of our robot-and-AI-filled future, then we’ll need to collaborate with experts, academics, start-ups, even the general public to solve business challenges.
Those professionals who understand this brave new world, are planning how to develop a workforce capable of rethinking its purpose and the purpose of the organisation. Fixed skillsets date at a rapid pace, so a culture of lifelong learning is needed to adapt to change, be resilient and drive the right attitudes. Organisations need to use the tools of innovation to challenge the norms and drive these shifts.
Collaboration will become a vital part of everyone’s job, if we hope to thrive in the age of disruption. New tools are helping to breakdown silos, as well as communicate and manage ideas, however, no one organisation has the expertise internally to create the innovative breakthroughs it needs.
The future of work will need a Global Home for Ideas and a community of expert problem solvers working together (which is where Wazoku can help!) Only then will we be able to create the change we’re looking for – and be prepared for the change we can’t yet comprehend.
No one can really predict the future of work as there are too many unknowns. What we can do is get comfortable with the uncomfortable, learn to adapt – and adapt fast – and start to understand the value of co-creation, if we truly want to take advantage of the opportunities hurtling towards us.
Want to find out how can you prepare for change, disruption and the need for innovation? Read our latest report to find out.