The Future of Work


What jobs will we have in a few years?

Today’s technological revolution is an entirely different beast from the industrial revolution. The pace of change is exponentially faster and far wider in scope! Want to know much more? For more than ten years I have been speaking and writing how trends and tendencies impact your job and your industry.

Which positions do we sit in five and ten year from now? And what sort of titles and areas of responsibility will there be? How are we organized and how do we actually work? Which jobs (gasp …) should we prepare our children for?

Do you want to be a knowledge pusher, dream alchemist, environmental evangelist, accounting warrior or something totally different? Basically, you can print out a business card and just give yourself the title you want. That is the SHORT answer.

In just a few years, there will be SO few protected titles left, a lot of people will carry a lot of different hats, and your success will depend on your track record and your reputation and social score online (a bit like TRUSTPILOT, only for people). Our entire educational system will be so “disrupted”, online and available that you won’t leave it with just ONE diploma – but with a whole range of competencies.

Future career as a Digital Archaeologist?

If you ask Wendy Enelow, founder of the “Career Thought Leaders Consortium”, a global think tank for career development, she says, among other things, that in future, we will see titles like digital identity planner and digital archaeologist. That sounds realistic, as so many parents today throw pictures of their kids on Facebook. One day, these kids will become old enough to wish that their entire childhood hadn’t been put online for all to see. And just think of all the teenagers who are putting up pictures and video clips these years – things that they are going to sorely regret in 5-10 years. So yes, a big vacuum cleaner for the internet. That sounds like a likely job for a lot of us. We are going to need thousands of hackers – people who, today, we are persecuting and locking up. In a few years’ time, hacking will be on the schedule at school.

Perhaps it will be more up your alley to scan and translate the activity in people’s minds, in order to translate that into words, which a sick patient is not able to express? Or how about becoming a farm-to-table restaurateur who produces the food before using it in the restaurant? We can’t even imagine all the different jobs that we will face in the future.

The journey has started

Today, many people work full time as bloggers and they make a living off it. The most successful of them work for themselves or for an NGO. They do not need a head office or any other sort of physical infrastructure. They are often motivated by a special cause, by debate and by forming public opinion. They are often quite powerful because they affect the younger forces in society.

Take, for example, the blogger Jimmy Moore. He started blogging back in 2005 because he was on a serious and much needed diet. The following year, he could quit his good job and triple his income as a full-time blogger.

Today, you have powerful blog universes with millions of followers such as The Huffington Post, Techcrunch, Kottke or people like Perezhilton, Beppe Grillo, Xu Jinglei and Chez Pim. They have all managed to make blogging a powerful media and thus an interesting job that is, in principle, open to everyone.

Or how about working as a content manager/community manager? That is also a new line of work which was unknown to us until a few years ago. Just consider all the different networks that exist on the web, where people of equal minds get together to share experiences with each other. A good example of such a network is Amino, founded by Martin Thorborg, or my own new “Forward In Life” network, where we allow new members to join a few times a year.

Today, Amino has well over 30,000 entrepreneurs among its members. Their community is led by these people. Another similar network is Sprouter from Canada. We are going to see many more of these virtual networks where people from all over the world can meet. And again, this is a job you can start on without first asking for employment somewhere.

Or how about the job as an app developer? That one hardly existed just 7-10 years ago. The famous iPhone was introduced in 2007 and Android followed shortly after. A significant part of the IT nerds of today are developing applications (apps) and today there are over 3 million applications in existence just for these two operating systems. Anyone can develop apps if they want to and if they have the skills. Creativity and innovation are drivers to a larger extent than formal education.

What are essential skills in the future?

The lesson is that our jobs change. Education is important, of course, both for your self-esteem and for creating a solid platform to start with, but we must not rely on traditional education (in itself) and believe that it will secure our future for eternity.

The knowledge you will have acquired when completing an exam is already obsolete, so the question is how to ensure that you maintain your market value. Be creative and curious, listen, read, learn, educate yourself throughout your life, formally or informally, and do not be afraid to go off on a tangent or to change tracks entirely – it will be the exception rather than the rule to celebrate 25 years at the same place or in the same position/industry. You must prepare yourself for having to navigate in a work environment that is very different from the one known to your parents and older colleagues.

In five years, I don’t think many of us will receive a job description, when we are presented with a new job. You will have to define your tasks yourself and you bid on them, just as we know it from online auctions.

We can no longer own

In a few years, we will see leaders who no longer feel the need to “own” our competencies when they employ us. Leaders only need to have access to them. We are going to see more people working for multiple companies at the same time. And we are going to see an increased tendency for companies to use non-attached and project workers. This is a direct consequence of there being fewer of us to solve more tasks. It makes your job situation more versatile, but also more complex. Learn how the future will impact the way you work in your company and industry.
 

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