There is news of restructures and redundancies and fear of a lack of jobs in the technology driven future economy. At the same time, organisations are struggling to find skilled employees. This is predicted to worsen as the talent shortage creates fierce competition to attract the right talent, and the supply of candidates skilled for the future become harder for organisations to find.
There are next to no industries immune to change, having already adapted to increased competition, technology and sector disruption. The difference though is that rapid change over the next fifteen to twenty years may alter how we live, travel, communicate and work, and much of it may not even be imagined yet.
So, what does the future look like and what do the futurists say?
Ross Dawson, a recognised futurist, believes that due to several broader trends, the skills that will be highly valued will fit into three categories:
- Globally competitive subject matter expertise
- Relationships, collaboration and influence
- Creativity and innovation
Essentially, you need to be great at one or more of these three, and your expertise will need to be world class to work in a globalised economy. The ability to build and develop networks and relationships, will be a vital skill to assist organisations to connect and individuals to collaborate. Creativity will be key for innovation and problem-solving to evolve and remain relevant.
Sometimes discussions about the future seem abstract and too big to contemplate. Even though what the future holds is unclear, here are five steps you can take to help future proof your career.
1. Do a Review
What industry do you work in? Is it changing, growing, stagnating or shrinking? Do you need to consider a transition to a new or related industry? What is your job function? Is some or all of it repetitive? If it is, it may be at risk of being automated or outsourced. Does your role add value to the business and its performance? If not, what direction could you move towards, what projects could you get involved in to expand your value and knowledge?
2. Look to the Future
Do you know where you want to be in five, 10 or 15 years? What aspect of society or the economy do you want to be involved in? If you have an idea of where you’d like to be in the future, whether that is to change careers, run a side business, work remotely or retire, what can you start doing now to turn that possibility into a reality and create momentum.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year but underestimate what they can do in ten years.”Bill Gates
3. Never Stop Learning
Training and upskilling can take many forms; formal education, short courses, online tutorials, on the job practice, self-teaching and mentoring. But if we also embrace lifelong learning in all its forms, we can and need to stay relevant at any age. But what should you learn? Develop the skills required for the job you want next, or develop intellectual, emotional and possibility thinking that will be a value add in the areas of expertise, relationships and creativity.
4. Know When to Move On
Has it been long enough, has it been too long? Only a few decades ago, ten years’ tenure equated to loyalty and two years was job-hopping. Now ten years can be judged as institutionalised and two years as ‘normal’. There is no hard rule but instead of judging how many years of service, focus on showing continuous learning, creating improvements, delivering projects, skill development and progression. More importantly, if you’ve learnt all you can or your goals no longer align with your employer’s, recognise when it’s time to move on.
5. Look at the Bigger Picture
Due to the increasing cost of living and trends in society, what we do for work and how much we earn has absorbed a disproportionate amount of our focus and energy. That is okay when life is coasting along but when there is change and uncertainty, we need stronger foundations to build resilience through uncertainty. Research has found there are four elements to healthy and productive living as we age, just one of which is work. As we live longer lives, we need to invest time and energy into all four elements:
- Work and a sense of purpose
- Financial security and wealth
- Health & wellbeing including mental wellbeing, nutrition and physical activity and sleep
- Lifestyle created through community, contribution and connection
Change is for certain and all change is uncertain. We need to embrace it and not hide away. Risk takers in business create simple daily habits that create certainty and control, while the rest of their day is in chaos. They also make plans, recognise what and where they need to develop, invest in themselves and keep one eye on the future.
If you can find certainty in the things you can control, make plans and then act, you may just see the opportunity in all this change.