Future Friday: The future of work- When and What?

by Michael Haberman on October 20, 2017 · 0 comments


We have reached the intersection of the future and now.

I have written about the “future of work” often. I have also written about the skills that will be needed for people to be able to stay employed. I came across an article in SiliconRepublic, written by Jenny Darmody their Careers Reporter. Her article was entitled When exactly is the future of work? She got an answer to her question by interviewing John Hagel III, who is the co-chair for Deloitte’s Center for the Edge. He has nearly 30 years of experience as a management consultant, author, speaker and entrepreneur. I am happy to say that Mr. Hagel’s points align with what I have said in the past.

The future is now

The premise of my Seven steps to being a practical HR futurist is that the “future” is not too distant in the future, in fact, it is happening now. We have paid attention to all the prognostications for the year 2020, which used to sound so far away. For all intents and purposes, it is here NOW. The majority of changes in technology, changes in demographics, changes in structures, and changes in needs are already present as we come upon 2018. Hagel says, in talking about the many dimensions of work “Virtually all of those have started to play out in one form or another so the future is today.

The future of jobs

Rather than just blue collar jobs being replaced, jobs that are highly repetitive in nature are likely to be replaced. In addition to that Hagel predicts that jobs that work with data are the most likely to be lost, after all, machines are much better at handling data than humans are. Darmondy quotes Hagel as saying: “Some of the highest-skilled jobs are actually going to be some of the earliest to be automated. A Ph.D. is less and less of a safety net in terms of job security.”

Capabilities, not skills

In the past, I have said “soft skills” will be needed by humans to survive. As an example here is a post on Nine Critical Skills for the Future of HR. Hagel opts to call these capabilities, and I don’t have a problem with that. He points out that hard skills, such as how to run a machine, how to use a particular program or application, or even how to respond to situations, rapidly become obsolete, especially as technology advances. I wrote a post about nine years ago called Constant Learning is the Key to Hireability. Today Darmondy quotes Hagel as saying “The average worker needs to realize that no matter what credentials they have, no matter what skill they have, it’s less and less relevant, and what really matters is how quickly they’re learning and developing themselves.” I ardently agree with Hagel when he says: “The more you have a sense of getting better faster, the more likely you are to continue to be able to be gainfully employed.”

Has to be a team effort

For this advance to occur, everyone needs to have a stake in getting better. Hagel says:

  • Individuals need to drive their own development and learning
  • Organisations need to facilitate this kind of accelerated learning
  • Public policy needs to encourage this transition

Without these three pieces interacting together, the kinds of advances needed will not occur. That means you as a worker need to work on yourself. Educational institutions need to get in sync with what is needed in the world of work and quit teaching hard skills. Governments, if they want their countries to prosper need to put support programs in place to encourage everyone to work toward the end of making sure everyone is employed in the “future.”

To answer the question at the outset the future is NOW.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art


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