How to Work in a World Without Jobs
Jobs Are Changing
As a young person, it’s easy to feel like things are always changing. You attend a new school every few years, responsibility and privilege are being thrust upon you (hello, driver’s license), and education will soon stop being your primary focus. With all these changes happening in your personal life, it can be easy to overlook the big picture changes that are affecting the world.
One of the biggest changes occurring today is in the job market. For as far back as history goes, there has always been a place for uneducated, unskilled laborers. They carried loads, made bricks, dug holes, harvested food, sold goods, assembled products, and filled every other niche of daily life.
Those days are coming to an end.
Jobs are changing. The positions previously available for unskilled laborers are going overseas to where the labor is cheaper, but that’s only temporary. Soon, we’ll have automated processes that are cheaper than even the most inexpensive human labor. When that day comes, there will be no going back.
Unskilled labor jobs will disappear altogether.
There’s a Revolution Upon Us!
Changes like this aren’t uncommon, at least not in the last 200 years. In a series of industrial revolutions, popular careers have been eliminated, replaced, exported, imported, and forever altered. In the developed world, there have been four industrial revolutions.
In the first, businesses began using steam to mechanize operations. In the second, electricity was the star, as it enabled mass production. The third used electronics to automate processes. The fourth is likely to be next-level automation and the integration of physical, digital, and bio spheres. What does that look like? Think drones. Think self-driving cars. Think industries transformed by affordable 3D printing, the integration of computer tech into living organisms, and the Internet of Things at full tilt.
Although these technologies are exciting, it’s not all fun and games. Industrial revolutions are like forest fires. They create conditions that allow for incredible growth, but not until everything gets burned to the ground.
Each of the first three industrial revolutions negatively impacted some members of the workforce. During the Industrial Revolution, a group known as the Luddites destroyed machinery to protest the use of machinery over human labor. In the third, we see political fallout in places where factory workers are losing their jobs to automation.
We’ll continue to see protests and political fights as businesses pursue more efficient and cost-effective technologies. Still, this revolution – just like the others – will reach maturity and change the workforce forever. That means there will be fewer and fewer jobs available for the unskilled workers of the world. To make things even worse, the high supply of laborers will drive down their wages. In short, the future of unskilled workers is bleak.
A strong back and a good work ethic won’t take you where it took the workers of the last few generations. It’s this reality that should shape at least part of your learning. In tomorrow’s work environment, what you know and how you think will impact your income and overall well-being. You need to begin preparing for that future today.
The Top Job Skills of Tomorrow’s Workforce
Big minds in business and economics are painting a picture of the future, and the ideal employee is becoming clear. What does he or she look like?
Here are assessments from three different reports.
“Future Work Skills 2020”
In this report, The Institute for the Future identifies six drivers of change as the catalysts for job market disruption. Those drivers are extreme longevity, the rise of smart machines and systems, advanced computational abilities, a new media ecology, “superstructured” organizations, and an increasingly globally connected world.
These varied drivers are creating a vacuum for particular job skills. You should really check out this infographic for the whole picture, but this is the gist: the ability to think wide and well is going to be huge.
Companies, networks, organizations, social systems, databases, computational power – they’re all getting way bigger. The men and women who can dip their toes into a number of interconnected pools without ignoring people or data will have a leg up on just about everyone else.
“The Jobs of the Future – and Two Skills You Need to Get Them”
Call us visionaries, but somehow we knew that mathematical prowess was going to be vital for entry level employees in the near future. Still, it was nice to hear the World Economic Forum say so. In this article from weforum.org, the author references job data collected over a thirty-year period, pointing out that jobs requiring math skills have grown. (You can check out the data in the graph below.) Also growing are jobs requiring social skills. Harvard professor David Deming believes this trend will continue. This belief comes from two well-established facts:
- Technological advances are the fruit of STEM thinking, and
- We still cannot program realistic humanity
“The study shows that workers who successfully combine mathematical and interpersonal skills…should find many rewarding and lucrative opportunities,” the article concludes.
“The Most Important Skills of Tomorrow, According to Five Global Leaders”
In this CNBC report, global leaders echo the need for behavioral talent in the future. Of the six skills these leaders recommend, only one is a technical ability. These are their predictions for the most important skills of tomorrow:
- Soft skills
- Data literacy and empathy
- Critical thinking
- Entrepreneurial spirit
Vikas Pota, CEO of the Varkey Foundation remarks that “it’s impossible to predict which ‘hard skills’ children in today’s classrooms will need for jobs in 15 years’ time.” No one doubts that hard skills will be required, but they may not even exist yet. After all, “who could have conceived two decades ago that there would be a whole new industry in search [engine] optimization?”
3 Reasons Why Humanity Still Matters
It’s easy to imagine a future run by robots. One day, we may have data-controlled resource dispensaries and artificial intelligence with superhuman problem solving abilities that treat humans like numbers.
But there will still be people, and all technology will be for their benefit. For that reason, even the most technological jobs will still require a human touch. These are just a few reasons why.
As we continue to hand over control of manufacturing, food production, transportation, shipping, and other core industries, we are forced to develop a new way of thinking about things. Take self-driving vehicles. Without human drivers to make split second decisions, self-driving cars need to be programmed to handle no-win accident situations. In other words, they “need to be programmed to kill.”
This video explains the ethics of self-driving cars in just a few minutes, but it’s going to take human beings and their complex ethical systems to determine how we use new technology going forward.
Another reason why humanity matters in the job market is because technology needs to benefit people. User interfaces and user experience must be designed so that they are intuitive and effective. Going forward, it will also be necessary for certain technological advancements to be repurposed for less tech-literate cultures around the world.
That’s a job for people.
Technology brings people together
You’ve heard that technology “brings people together,” but we think that sounds a little too slow. We’re not talking about groups of people calmly and carefully integrating with one another. We’re talking about vastly different cultures, social systems, and governments crashing into each other at the speed of the internet!
Navigating these murky waters towards peace, companionship, and compromise is going to be difficult and it’s going to require lots of input from smart and compassionate people.
What You Can Do RIGHT NOW to Prepare for Your Future Career
All of this is to say one thing: you need to be ready. We know the general direction we’re heading in, but the details are still unclear. If you’re going to have a chance at success in the future, you need to start preparing today.
Learn another language
People from all over the world are doing business together more than ever. You can get involved if you speak the language. Plus, learning new languages builds empathy, the only future business skill to show up in this article twice! (Recommendations: Arabic, Mandarin, Punjabi, Russian, and/or Spanish.)
Get fluent in “new media”
The way issues are discussed impacts their popularity and implementation. Fluency in “new media” (such as social media, blogs, web forums, and online news outlets) can open your eyes to trends and widespread desires.
Fluency also helps you get people to pay attention to your own insights.
Pay attention to global trends, as they relate to people
As we’ve seen in just the past year, political movements, mass migrations, and battles over resources influence employment conditions all over the world. Progress will not happen the same everywhere. If you know what’s happening, you can position yourself to succeed.
Hit the (STEM) books!
We may not know exactly what the careers of the future are called, but we know that the best ones will be in science, technology, engineering, and math. Hard skills will matter, and a “math brain” education will put you in a position to learn them quickly or will equip you with them outright.
What Are You Going to Do?
While you’re still in school, your job is to learn. Work with teachers, counselors, tutors, and friends to develop a curriculum that prepares you for the future. Sign up for classes that will teach you not just facts, but also how to process and analyze them. Plug into the new media outlets that will feed you useful information about technological progress and its connection to jobs. Find resources that will get specific and teach you how use your knowledge in a way that businesses value.
To get you started, we’re going to offer you our Job Prep Starter Pack, for FREE! The Job Prep Starter Pack has a bunch of useful resources that will prepare you for the future of employment. We scoured the internet for the tools that will help you stay on top of news, trends, and technology. There’s also educational resources for learning the hard and soft skills that will make you highly valuable to future employers.
To get yours, all you have to do is follow us on Facebook or Twitter and ask for the #jobprepstarterpack! It’s that simple! You can find us on Twitter @FergusonTutor or on Facebook, @FergusonTutoring.