The comments and tips in this article are my response to the provocative article that appeared on the CBS News website, “Will These 10 jobs Disappear in 2012”. The article was written by Louise Tutelian and the web link to it is provided at the end.
We live and work in times of huge and it seems relentless change and the biggest driver for that change has of course been technology. Cyber space, and the technologies that have allowed us to exploit and enjoy it for instantaneous written, auditory and visual communication with anyone, anywhere, about anything, at anytime, for work and for entertainment, has quickly made it an essential tool in managing our everyday lives in every conceivable context.
The physical and organisational infrastructure, hardware and software behind it all and the constant drive for innovations has required new knowledge and new skill sets and led to new jobs that we hadn’t conceived of ten or even five years ago. So people with technology-related skills are in high demand but even for them, the pace of change may seem at times overwhelming and there is increasingly the risk of specialising in technologies that become redundant.
Of course revolutions driven by ‘new technologies’ which change the way people work, what they can produce and how they live, are nothing new and the industrial revolution which spanned the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries showed us this. But what is new is the rate of change, which is unprecedented. The industrial revolution saw the world quickly divided up into producers and consumers with the producers of goods (and therefore wealth) having huge economic influence. In modern times this is still the case but consumers also have substantial power in changing the economic landscape. We have also seen countries becoming economically co-dependent as they prioritise facilitating business and trading relationships with other nations which then leads to the proliferation of financial and economic systems of incredible complexity and, as we have seen, high risk. Recent economic crises have proven this.
So there have been wonderful opportunities for people with financial, mathematical and statistical qualifications and experience and they will continue to be in demand but perhaps even people with these skills will need to look at recent financial and economic crises, trends and challenges ahead that might be indicated by these and consider whether the demand for their skills might change as a result.
OK, the world is changing fast, largely driven by technology and new jobs will emerge all the time. Jobs will also continue to disappear for a variety of reasons. In addition, the number of jobs of a particular type, across a particular sector and their physical location will also change, and with the potential to change fast as new technologies and new enterprises rise and wane. We have another dynamic to add to this, an unsettled world landscape in relation to economic power, and one in which a single country, or many, can be impacted either adversely or positively by the economic failure or success of another country on another continent even where there are apparently no direct trade, economic or political ties. These economic consequences are often quite fast. This increasingly requires economic and global awareness at an individual level in order to anticipate, respond to and be resilient to, local, regional and global change that could affect our ability to secure and remain in work.
So, what can be done to ensure success and longevity in the labour market?
- Maintain your specialist skill set and good current knowledge of your discipline or field.
- Regularly review your skill set, identify any weaknesses and take action to address them. Decide whether the action is to up-skill; add a new skill that compliments existing skills and differentiates you from your colleagues; or re-skill. A careers consultant can be a useful sounding board and provide advice and support.
- Keep up to date with local and international trends in your field and if possible in related fields. Some work areas that were once considered discipline-specific are becoming cross-disciplinary.
- Maintain soft-skills such as verbal communication, managing relationships with others and maintaining a profile through networking.