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Future of work: 5 ways to prepare yourself for coming changes


This guide outlines the key strategies to prepare yourself properly for the coming revolution in the future of work and the changed employment landscape.

In times of economic uncertainty, it can be comforting to seek a recession-proof job.  The sad reality, however, is that all jobs are prone to change and open to economic impact. Currently, tourism, retail, professional services and hospitality sectors have experienced some of the most significant impacts.  In contrast, there has been growth in health, caring, call-centres and cleaning jobs, and continued growth in technology and cyber-security roles.

However, think back 12 months ago, and the conversation was about the changing nature of work provoked by the impacts of artificial intelligence, automation and robotics.  While that conversation may have faded into the background, it hasn’t gone away.

The technology revolution is continuing, while we are economically facing unemployment rates not seen since the days of the great depression. If you currently work in a profession or role that’s not affected, it can be easy to lull yourself into a false sense of security about the future of work. Don’t make that mistake.

Predictions for the future of work

At last year’s Global Retail Show, the panel, entitled “Skills for a New Era” was attended by Alessandra Morrison, who, at the time, occupied the position of Human Resources director at Kimberly-Clark and gave a strong presentation. Alessandra brought information presented by Korn Ferry in 2019, with projections of transforming indicators for the labor market in the near future:

  • 82% of companies by 2027 must change their mindset towards the digital age (Gallup Poll, 2018);
  • 35% of skills considered important today will not be 5 years from now (World Economic Forum, 2018);
  • By 2029, robots are predicted to have reached the same intelligence as humans (Ray Kurzweil, 2018);
  • 65% of children will enter primary school today and will do jobs we’ve never heard of (World Economic Forum, 2018);
  • By 2030, the global talent crisis will reach sky-high levels in both developed and developing economies (Korn Ferry. The Talent Crunch, 2018).

Interestingly, the above projections for the future of work were published in 2018, before the pandemic. We certainly have a scenario of accelerating these projections so that they become reality and, perhaps, in shorter terms. We highlight here the projection, determined by Kurzwel, that by 2029 robots will have reached the same intelligence as humans. If we are going to have robots as intelligent as we humans are, will we have jobs available to non-robots in the future of work?

Kurzwel, a scholar and author of books on Artificial Intelligence, is probably not considering the intelligence studies of Howard Gardner, a psychologist and author of the theory that there are seven types of intelligence in all, and is referring to the logical and linguistic intelligences, called the “classical intelligences”. Gardner explains, with his theory, how people with low IQ (Intelligence Quotient, a traditional method of measuring people’s intelligence) could achieve success in their careers in the future of work.

The advancement of Artificial Intelligence, in robots or just in superprocessors, will significantly impact the job market in the future of work. The information storage and processing capacity of machines surpasses that of human beings and, consequently, companies will need this Artificial Intelligence to maintain their competitiveness. Advancing AI will not end jobs, but it will create new types of jobs. Back to the point: professional qualification. Does our working mass, unemployed or not, have skills for these new careers? Who and how will qualify us not to become obsolete?

Perhaps the solution for the future of work lies in other “non-classical” intelligences, such as emotional intelligence, spiritual intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, motor intelligence. This set of intelligences is essentially human.

We are “people”! Made to live in community. We love interacting with “people”. We like to live among living beings (humans, plants, animals, etc.). For this reason, we believe that the advancement of technology and the accelerated digital transformation will not replace us in the job market in the future of work, but we continue to face a huge challenge in terms of qualifying our workforce. Future projections for the future of work reveal the need to act together (civil society, business and the public sphere) and, at an accelerated pace, in the cultural transformation of our society.

Preparing for the future of work

In the future of work, there will be no such thing as a job for life or a recession-proof career.   Surviving this environment requires more effort, focus and deliberate action.  Here are five tips to keep you ready for whatever the future holds

1. Embrace change

Getting comfortable with the future of work starts with building your resilience for the inevitable change that will arise and adopting a growth mindset, so you are ready to adapt. As well, proactively determine what any current and potential future changes in the future of work may mean for you, your profession and industry.  With that knowledge to hand, you are better able to decide the action to take because you will more readily notice where there are gaps and opportunities in the market to pursue.

2. Get invested

Critically examine your career – where you are now, where you want to be and what you need to do to get there. As part of this step to prepare for the future of work, be clear on the value you offer prospective employers. Everyone brings specific skills and ways of operating to the work they do. It’s essential to be able to articulate that value and explain how you can help an organisation, business or client achieve their objectives. However, what’s valued changes over time, and so you need to keep your value offering current.

3. Focus on connection

According to the McKinsey Global Institute Report (2017), people in caring, technology or knowledge roles will be the least impacted by artificial intelligence and automation coming in the future of work, while technicians, processors and people doing predictable physical work will be most impacted.

While the predictable, routine and process elements of roles will be automated, what can’t be automated is the relational, emotional and leadership skills needed for work. Consequently, having strong self-awareness and emotional intelligence is just as important as the technical skills a person uses in their work.

4. Find your learning edge

Career success requires a constant desire to learn and a willingness to equip yourself with new competencies and capabilities for the future of work.  Strive for learning that is broad and deep by staying abreast of the latest thinking from your profession, and also from complementary occupations and industries. For example, read books on topics that expand your knowledge base, undertake micro-credentials or enrol in online courses to acquire new skills.

5. Build your advisory board

Many jobs are unadvertised, so networking is crucial not just to land a new job, but also to help you identify what roles are available.  As well, meeting new people will help to expand your awareness of potential next steps, how things are changing and what new opportunities are opening up.

As part of this process, identify the core people in your network who make up your career advisory board.  This board may include a sponsor, mentor or career coach, who help you navigate and adapt to the changing working world.  They provide advice, share insights, constructively challenge your thinking and actions, and provide connections and ideas.



The future of work is here, and the question to consider is what else you need to do to be ready for it?

About Michelle Gibbings

Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert, who works with global leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’ and ‘Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate your Career’.

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