In my last post I discussed the future of work, the fact that some studies show 45% of people are concerned about their jobs being obsolete in 3-5 years, whether we will be changing jobs and careers multiple times in a lifetime, and the role that technology has to play.
Since then, the debate around how far AI will take our jobs continues to rage on, partly compounded by political uncertainty around Brexit but also the rapid proliferation of emerging technologies such as blockchain, AI and robotics. It was no surprise then, that this year’s Trust Barometer shows that people, particularly young people from the mass populations, more than ever are worried about the future, with trust inequality at an all-time high.
FUTURE OF JOBS
People are worried. The 2019 Trust Barometer shows that more than half (59%) of employees worry about job losses and not having the training and skills necessary to get a good paying job. In addition, 55% are concerned that automation and/or other innovations are taking your job away.
But should people be worried? The future of work and need for global reskilling was a particularly hot topic at Davos this year, but there are still diverse views on whether automation will cut jobs, or simply create new ones and what this will look like. For example, the Future of Jobs 2018 report by the World Economic Forum calculated that, while 75 million jobs will be displaced worldwide through automation between 2018 and 2022, as many as 133 million new roles could be created.
So, if it’s not all doom and gloom, how should young people be preparing for this ‘unknown’ future for jobs that don’t yet exist?
TECHNICAL VS INTANGIBLE SKILLS
As hard as this sounds, young people need to work out their passions and skills they’d like to develop (if they yet know them), but also be adaptable to change. Some studies show that young people should not only prioritise technical skills but also the intangible skills that are equally important in any job, such as work ethic, motivation, communication and problem-solving.
In many markets, a skills gap has made it harder for companies to find top talent, which means that many businesses are focusing on finding people with those soft skills from unconventional non-STEM backgrounds to develop the skills they require for the future. One US study found that 80 percent of employers said soft skills will be equally or more important than hard skills when hiring candidates. This shows that there is a fundamental misalignment between what talent thinks is necessary (technical skills) and what corporates and administrators see as the true range of skills needed (intangible skills).
What is clear is that young people need to be open-minded and flexible about their current or future role in an organisation and be smart about the skills they choose to develop, which is where their employer should step in.
RESPONSIBILITY OF THE EMPLOYER
The 2019 Trust Barometer theme was all about the responsibility of the employer to represent the employee and for the CEO to be trusted to do the right thing. All businesses – whether looking at automation or not – have an opportunity to reinforce and build trust by anticipating and facilitating training and skills development. No one is in the same job for life, so employers need to invest, support and guide their employees to hone their technical and non-technical skills to help them adapt to changes in the business, as well as for the employer to retain talent. This will help businesses stay trusted and competitive.
ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES
More than three quarters (77%) of respondents in the Trust survey believe that technology companies should play a larger role in helping to ensure our education system keeps pace with the emerging skills people will need in the future. This shows the ever-increasing role that tech companies have in helping us understand what this future world of work will look like and how we should prepare. Tech companies need to forge ever closer links between schools, colleges and universities and ensure that any new technical course is relevant, and they have the latest resources and materials to hand. This can include teaching coding in the case of Apple or offering online certification programs on Coursera in the case of Google.
TRUST IN TECH
With trust in tech at an all-time high, it is an exciting time to be in the technology sector. Tech companies need to ensure they retain their trust from employees to train and reskill them (whether that is in the face of automation or not), and also support the next generation in developing new skills as this diverse industry evolves. This is a lot of responsibility, and despite being in a time of fake news and security/privacy issues, many tech companies will thrive if they allow their employees to thrive (as long as they don’t switch jobs too often) and worry less, to help them navigate what the exciting future world of work will look like for them.