The power of technology to create upheaval in the global job market has never been felt more acutely.
The accompanying anxiety that increasingly intelligent machines will eliminate jobs across practically every sector continues to fuel conversations among employees that the future is uncertain.
The move towards smart cities and smart workforces is already in motion: in retail, our supermarket staff are being replaced with automated tills; in offices, personal assistants are becoming artificial; in engineering, vehicles are driving themselves; at banks and insurance companies, robot process automation is fast becoming integral to success.
Often, confronting these new realities provokes the concern that self-learning machines, which can feel like they’re developing minds of their own, are doing our jobs better than we can.
But don’t worry. Here’s how we can prepare to embrace the technology revolution:
First, we need to accept that the jobs we hold now won’t look the same in the future.
Similarly, the jobs we are poised to take up as a consequence may not yet exist. Nothing is more exemplary of this than the emergence of roles such as cyber architects and data scientists, which didn’t exist 10 years ago.
These jobs came from nowhere, as digitalisation developed in ways we couldn’t have anticipated.
While some roles will be subject to substantial change, they won’t necessarily become redundant – technology still needs human interaction to be successful, but we must alter expectations around the future of the workforce. We need to be nimble and prepared for the unpredictable.
Invest in upskilling
New government initiatives to foster education in cyber security and technology for children are a commendable step to counteract the risks of a tech-first future.
However, the skills gap faced by adults is likely contributing to why the rise of advanced technologies is disconcerting. Many people won’t feel they have the skills in place to compete with automated programming that eliminates the risk of human error.
In fact, Networkers’ Voice of the Workforce research, which examines confidence levels among technology professionals, revealed that 57 per cent believe there is a technology skills shortage – a void in preparedness which will challenge the future of business.
The most successful companies will identify where the knowledge gaps lie in their current workforces, and will support them to upskill, investing in new talent to complement.
Their employees will feel emboldened that they can keep a competitive edge with the elevated skills that new technologies demand.
Cultivate a futuristic mindset now
Finally, workforces need to feel assured that their companies are agile enough to cope with technology disruptors.
Our research shows that only 34 per cent of tech professionals believe their companies are proactive in implementing changes that will allow them to survive in the future technology landscape. Clearly, there is a need for business leaders to instil confidence in the longevity of their companies’ aims, by embracing forward-thinking measures to progress in tech.
Accept change is upon us
Many enterprises are reluctant to fully invest in digitalisation until the security exposure risk is significantly diminished. Realistically, we don’t know exactly what this exposure is going to look like even in 10 years’ time, but we are certain that the companies which don’t put future-gazing measures in place now will get left behind, and so will their employees.
It’s true that many jobs as we know them now are under threat.
But there’s no need to panic. Advances in tech will naturally create space for new opportunities, as long as businesses are prepared to welcome these changes and adapt in ways that will benefit their workforces.
James Smith is managing director of Networkers.