The workplace is constantly evolving, jobs today look very different to those 500 years ago – for example you don’t see many nursemaids, town criers, weavers, or watchmen. And many careers from just a few years ago, such as switchboard operators, travel agents, or cashiers, are now either obsolete or rare.
Technology plays such a huge role in society and shaping the jobs of the future, as do political, socio-economic, environmental, cultural, societal, and business trends (such as the ageing workforce and growing population). While many jobs will become extinct, new opportunities will arise – removing often menial and unfavourable work and creating opportunities for future generations of workers to find fulfilling, engaging, and more lucrative work.
Preparing for the future of work is essential for your business, whether that’s optimising your current workforce and establishing areas for growth, preparing employees for the future, creating strategies that are adaptable to change, or predicting the types of roles that may emerge.
Preparing your workforce for the future
Developments in tech mean certain jobs and skills will become more sought after. Ensuring your workforce can deal with emerging trends will put you in the best position for success. Amid the Covid-19 outbreak, a lot of companies had to prioritise survival and were forced to make mass redundancies to save costs. However, this left them with large skills gaps.
Succession planning is key to preparing your workforce for the future as well as getting the best out of your employees. Managers should ensure they have clear succession plans for their teams. This way if a member of staff leaves the business, they have other team members who can either move into their role, take on additional responsibilities, or fill the gap during the hiring process.
Additionally, giving employees a clear succession plan, attainable goals, opportunities for upskilling, and targets to help them progress in their careers will ultimately make them more engaged and give them a greater sense of career fulfilment. Use this talent matrix to assess your teams’ capabilities and how to maximise their potential.
Planning for the unknown
Planning for the future of work is all well and good when it comes to measurable trends we can predict, such as the acceleration of technology, automation, and artificial intelligence. However, sometimes we cannot know what will happen to shape the world as we know it - a global pandemic being a prime example. No one could have predicted it or how drastically it would change the workplace in just a few short years.
Remote/home working went from a desirable job perk that was out of reach for many to a necessity and one employees now expect. In addition to remote working, Covid-19 also accelerated other workplace trends, such as employee wellbeing, workplace health and safety, digital HR processes, and virtual collaboration.
So how can your business prepare for the future when the future is uncertain? One way to think about this is to look at the theory of evolution which shows us those who can adapt and evolve are those who will survive. The key is to ensure your business and strategies are agile (able to adapt to the changing environment quickly and easily), that workers are upskilled and trained ready for future developments, that your digital infrastructure is advanced and robust, and that your human resources function is well established – or even better, has a seat at the boardroom table.
When looking at the immediate future and the next five or 10 years, there are many jobs which have been growing rapidly in popularity or demand that are likely to continue to grow – many of which have been driven by the acceleration of technology. These include:
AI and machine learning specialists
Software and app developers
Digital transformation specialists
Renewable energy engineers
Data protection specialists
Construction workers and tradespeople
In order to recruit for these in-demand roles, you will need to assess your employer brand, attraction and retention strategies, as well as learning and development opportunities. Additionally, as many of these are heavily influenced by the development of technology, investing in your tech infrastructure will likely attract the top talent who want to work with the latest developments.
Another way to attract talent into these roles is to focus your approach at grassroots level. The government has been placing a lot of importance on STEM careers, and encouraging more young people to enter those professions, in preparation of the growing demand. Getting involved in STEM initiatives, whether that’s providing free training for students, volunteering, offering work experience placements, or competitive graduate schemes, can help your business attract new talented graduates in these growing professions.
Jobs of the future
We can quite easily predict the jobs that are going to become even more sought after by analysing current market trends, but what will the next twenty years and beyond look like? While it’s not essential to plan for these new roles just yet, thinking towards the distant future can help your business get ahead of the curve. Here are some jobs we may see in the future:
As machines become more human-like, it’s not a wild stretch to assume that in the future they may need human intervention beyond programming. AI psychologists with an understanding of both technology and psychology could be deployed to maintain systems’ emotional and psychological health and wellbeing.
Not to be confused with data scientists, data detectives are more qualitative in their approach and investigate mysteries in big data. While this will no doubt involve tech skills, the scope for data detectives is vast – those with investigative, legal, or mathematical skills may utilise their knowledge to answer some of the world’s biggest mysteries as our volume of accessible data continues to grow.
Drones have become increasingly popular in recent years with both organisations and individuals. In the future we could see deliveries being made via drones as businesses look to reduce carbon emissions and take more vehicles off the roads. In order to do this effectively, drone managers may be needed to oversee communications, collision avoidance and assist with safe landings.
How will the world of work change?
It’s important to look beyond just the types of jobs that will occur in the future and think about how workplaces and the world of work will look.
As technology advances, what will become even more valuable, are the people behind the machines and what skills they bring that cannot be replicated by computers. As such, we may see companies place more value in soft skills, such as decision making, communication, creativity, resilience, emotional intelligence, and intuition.
We may also see greater flexibility for employees in the future. As digital expansions remove geographical boundaries, where, when, and how people work will all change. We may also see more emphasis being placed on project-based work and less importance on the standard nine-to-five format. We are already seeing this in practice as businesses are beginning to base their success criteria on outcomes rather than hours worked and this seems set to continue well into the future.
Businesses that are already adopting these new ways of working will pave the way for other companies and become leaders in their fields. This will ultimately help them attract and retain talent and futureproof their businesses. While it’s not possible to account for every eventuality, ensuring your business is agile, responsive, investing in technology, and assessing business strategies regularly, will ensure you are well equipped for the future of work.
If you are looking for your next great professional, contact your local recruitment specialist today.