The world of work is in a state of constant change. The development of automation enabled by technologies including robotics and artificial intelligence brings the promise of higher productivity, increased efficiencies, safety, and convenience. But these technologies also raise difficult questions about the broader impact of automation on jobs, skills, wages, and the nature of work itself.
We are in an economic cycle where jobs, as we know them, are rapidly changing. Automation, digital platforms, and other innovations are changing the fundamental nature of work. Understanding these shifts can help you move forward. Here are just a few of the changes:
The Transition from Salaried Work to Freelance
As most in the workforce know, most mid-high-level jobs are guaranteed a particular salary every year, and it has been like this for an incredibly long time. But, today, we are starting to see the evaporation of this and the rise of a freelance work culture.
Many employers are choosing to seek out contractors rather than a normal full-time employee. However, there are important reasons as to why this is happening. Freelance workers are generally not guaranteed any benefits by whoever decides to hire them, which cuts down on overall labor costs. This also allows for labor scaling. An employer can bring on a certain number of freelance workers when a project needs to be done and not have to worry about firing or keeping the employees.
Regardless of what some analysts are saying, this is not a bad thing. A recent study shows that 25 percent of individuals who hold salaried jobs would prefer to independent contractors. The researchers believe this is due to the autonomy and work-time control that the freelance life gives to contractors. Essentially, this not only helps employers, but it also grants freelancers the opportunity to have the flexibility that they could not have had in a salaried position.
Transitions from Occupations to Project-Based Work
The transition from general occupational work to project-based work is happening before our eyes. Many employers are expecting workflows to be more project based than the former occupational based workflows. This is partially due to the fact that, with the increase in freelance work, project-based assignments are coming much more common.
We are still in the early stages of this transition, and experts cannot quite tell how this is going to affect job searches and employment practices. But, with this said, those who prefer project-based work will possibly have quite the advantage.
It seems that the mainstream media is terrified of automation because they believe that the robots will take everyone’s jobs away, but this is simply not true. Years ago, during the advent of the ATM, people swore that the ATM would take all of the bank teller jobs away. But, we still have bank tellers. This is because there are skills that human workers have that automated workers cannot emulate.
Any job involving behaviors like person-to-person communication and empathy have no chance of being filled by a robot. In addition, when a robot does take the place of a human’s job, it simply allows for other jobs. Robots need individuals to design them and repair them when they break down. In fact, according to experts, the ratio between population and employment has risen for the last 140 years, including the years that include increases in automation.
With all of this said, the Future of Work is not a bleak world where everything is done by robots, jobs will just shift from more manual labor to the creation and upkeep of the machines doing such jobs.
Recruiters Will Focus More on Skills Than Credentials
Oftentimes, teachers or mentors suggest that, when writing a resume, you should take great care in highlighting your academic degrees and achievements. However, in regards to the Future of Work, employers will focus less on academic achievement and more on useful technical skills. In fact, researchers are already starting to notice a 0% correlation between academic credentials and achievement. This is especially true in STEM fields, as these technical skills are needed due to the creation of jobs due to automation.
This is not a bad thing for those who tend to highlight their academic success for use in the workforce. Individuals should just make it clear to the employer what technical skills your education has provided to you in a way that the employer can determine how the skills will be useful to their company.
The Creation of New Industries
One of the greatest things that will come out of The Future of Work is due to the internet. In the past, the internet has created entirely new types of jobs and ways to sell products. The biggest example of this is probably the release of the iTunes Store. This not only created an easy to use platform for selling digital music, but it also created the mobile phone app industry, as iTunes allowed for the easy dissemination of applications.
This is bound to happen again, but, it must be noted that in order to succeed in the new markets involved with the Future of Work, both employers and individuals must be flexible in adapting to these new industries. As platforms develop, there will be a need for workers with experience on the platforms and the technical skills needed to effectively contribute to projects.
In conclusion, while the Future of Work (and the future in general) may seem scary, it really is not. Industries and the workforce will continue to change as the world changes, and the need for hard-working human workers will always be needed. These are just some of the interesting changes that we are going to see in the near future, and this near future is quite a bright one.