13 May 16 Top ten trends that impact the future of work
Every major technology shift has led to job losses, and sometimes destruction of entire industries or professions. Though new jobs are created and productivity may improve, there is severe pain for the losers.
Today, faced with a plethora of automation technologies coupled with employment stagnation in developed countries, there is heightened fear and uncertainty about the future. Robots (or printers) will make products, cars will drive themselves, software will answer calls and trade stocks, artificial intelligence will make decisions – so then, what will humans do?
While not exhaustive, here are Top ten trends that will drive the future of work:
Technology: Given the explosion of technology from phones to wearables to cars to IoT to drones to genomes, technology will only become more pervasive – generating sustained demand for techies, scientists, researchers and assorted geeks. Of course, these people will need to be highly qualified.
Health services: Ageing is already a reality in Japan, Europe and even China. Most people in emerging economies don’t have access to healthcare, and ageing will further aggravate the problem. We can expect robust demand for doctors, nurses, technicians, care-givers and other health professionals. Home care services will also grow dramatically.
Wellness & Beauty: More and more people will care about what they eat, how they live, how they look. They will enthusiastically gym, run, trek, do yoga or qi gong, visit exotic spas, and consume a vast range of healthy, organic products. This will create huge opportunities for trainers, gurus, healers, dietitians, beauticians, and such like.
Leisure, media and entertainment: If computers do more of our work, we will have more time to indulge. Expect more folk to take exotic holidays, eat out, go to concerts or events, and consume huge quantities of content across mediums. This will greatly expand opportunities for creative or sports people – filmmakers, musicians, editors, technicians and hangers-on, chefs, entertainers, artists and designers, people who teach music, sports, film, etc; sports administrators and coaches (think EPL or IPL), holiday organizers, and event managers.
Serving the Super Rich: Though we don’t always like the super-rich, their tribe will grow – especially in emerging markets. New opportunities will evolve for those who provide “luxury” services; interior designers, clothes designers, money managers, wedding and party planners, and a whole bunch of “advisors” of various kinds.
Security: Sadly, crime and terrorism will only increase. Every piece of negative news triggers more fear, and spend on security. Just as an example, the horrific attacks at the Taj Mumbai (26/11) resulted in mandatory screening/scans at all major hotels in India. Demand for security personnel, devices and services will only grow.
Data Security & Analytics: The explosion of digital content has created enormous amounts of data that can be analyzed for economic benefit. On the flip side, hackers and online criminals are out to steal information or simply create chaos. Governments want to monitor what citizens are saying or doing. Corporations and countries will keep spying on each other. So those with analytics, data management, statistics, hacking, data security or forensics expertise will not lack opportunities.
Clean & Green: The green movement will only gain momentum; forcing government, corporate and individual spends on environment protection and clean tech. The scale of the problem is huge, with a growing backlog of dirty lakes, rivers, cities, air, oceans, forests, and more! People with expertise in pollution control, clean energy, environment protection, organic farming, waste disposal, recycling, etc. will have plenty to do.
Education: All these folk providing the wonderful services above will need to be better qualified. Good education will become even more of a differentiator than it is today. Regardless of computer-aided tools; teachers, tutors, content creators and school administrators will be in great demand. And not just in developing countries.
Uberization: Arguably, the biggest disruptor – and cutting across sectors – will be what people describe as “Uberization” or the “e-lance economy”. More and more of us will choose to work for ourselves, find customers and deliver services over the Internet. Millions of craftsmen will not need agents to sell their products. Traditional companies may find that their best employees prefer to be independent, and will have to re-think HR and recruitment. It’s not just the money, but flexibility and choice. Companies that can leverage this trend to exploit external talent or create platforms to facilitate such work will do well.
The above list is not intended to be exhaustive. Some age-old professions (like recruiters, marketers or lawyers) will see robust demand as well. The crucial question to ask is: Are we prepared for this shift? If not, how do we prepare? And the answers are critical for each of us as individuals, parents, educators, employees, managers, entrepreneurs and policy makers.