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The Changing Nature of Jobs and How to Stay Relevant

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics between 1978 and 2008, the average American employee aged 18-44 years held 11 different jobs. As the world economy becomes increasingly global, the only certainty in employment is that the nature and structure of the workforce will inevitably continue to change. These changes will bring new opportunities for dynamic careers that provide increased work-life balance and flexibility.

Disappearing Jobs

New automation, production methods and manufacturing technologies will make certain types of jobs redundant. Among these will be manual and routine jobs like retail cashiers, word processing, and any task involving manual handling such as stock and warehouse or factory workers. In a recent example, Ford and Holden motor vehicle manufacturers in Australia notified closures of their domestic manufacturing plants. Impacting thousands of workings the shift in the industry has been quickly realised with the release of the new Ford Mustang, already sold out for 2016.

New Jobs That Didn’t Exist

At the same time, developments in science and technology will transform existing industries, creating new business models and new types of jobs. The shift in the working landscape has changed at a rapid rate in the last ten years, new jobs have been created that previously didn’t exist like social media managers, app developers and even chief listeners.

For example, Paul Minton graduated from college with a math major, but was unable to find a job. He took a 3 month course in computer programming and data analysis, and was able to get a 6-figure salary as a data analyst for a web startup in San Francisco.

Like Minton, up to 70% of students are training for jobs that soon won’t exist. The main drivers for change are automation, globalisation and collaboration. So which industries are going to provide the careers of the future?

How Will Employment Look in the Future?

The World and Employment Social Outlook 2015 (WESO) predict that employment in private sector services, accommodation and restaurants will increase rapidly the next 4 years. Service-based industries can keep costs low while charging premium, including business and administrative services, & real estate. More than ? of jobs worldwide in 2015 are linked to global supply chains for goods and services either consumed or further processed in other countries.

The International Labour Organisation reveal that employment relationships are becoming less secure, only 25% of workers worldwide having stable, full-time employment, 75% are employed in temporary work, informal and own account work, paid family work, and this trend is increasing.

Recent statistics show that the average worker stays in a job for 4.4 years. To position yourself for successful successive careers, you’ll want to match your skills growth to the fastest growing industries.

Technology is creating new ways of working. We are increasingly able to accumulate, store, manage and extract value from data. As technology becomes cheaper, multifunctional and easier to use, observes that workers will become more mobile, working over distance, on more flexible working arrangements, with increased connectedness* - with workers being available at any time. In the EU mobile working styles will give workers more autonomy and flexibility to combine work and family life.

In Australia, Tom Caesar has embraced the changing nature of business by driving his marketing efforts predominantly online. “Combining Marketing and Technology into a single department was an obvious decision as our business grew. When marketing is separated from technology it fails.”

“My IT and marketing staff are a single team, using technology to create multiple points of contact with clients, which is what clients want. Drawing data from the Customer Relationship Management system, we focus our marketing where it’s most effective. We’re having to adapt all the time, a recent example is where we have begun talking to our customers in terms of repayment values, not interest rates because it’s easier and more practical to understand”

This strategy has created exponential growth for the rapidly scaling South Australian loan writer, resulting in a doubling of the number of full-time employees in just 12 months.

Staying Relevant In the Midst of Change

Creating a dynamic career path will mean acquiring the skills relevant for the future of the industry you’ve chosen. This will inevitably mean getting tech savvy in some way. A friend of mine has been a Project Manager for 10 years, and during this time, her role has evolved in efficiency and in delivery time as expectations change with new technology. She’s created and defined her role by developing new skills, whilst moving through several international companies.

Rather than focusing on a particular job description, you’ll be focused on developing a core set of transferable skills that you enjoy. Whilst making sure you’re keeping up with popular technology used for communication and the business of your industry is essential, it may be just as important to focus on broader skills like cross-cultural competency and computational thinking.

One thing that machines will not be able to replicate is the ‘human’ side of being human. I recently watched a TED Talks video in which Harvard Business School psychologist Amy Cuddy observes that the most foremost in a potential employer’s mind on first meeting a prospective candidate is whether that person can be trusted. Focusing on the social skills which will enable others to perceive you as a warm and trustworthy will go further to improve your chances of securing the right career than even the highest grades or technical skills.

LinkedIn now has a ‘skills’ feature so you can research which skills are trending in your industry, and understand what employers are looking for. Remember though, your attitude is the key to getting a good job.

Business is changing so fast that employers often need to hire people before their eventual role within the company is fully outlined. So employers aren’t necessarily looking for someone with the skills and experience you’ll eventually need, they’re looking for someone who has aptitude, enthusiasm, independence and teamwork ability. If you’ve got one outstanding skill that your employer needs, and you’re willing to learn and be flexible, you’re likely to get that new position.

* RAND Corporation’s Report on Global and Societal Trends to 2030 on Employment and the Changing Labour Market

Posted on January 23, 2016.

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