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The Future of Work: How Safe Is Your Job?

Transferable Skills

With the increased focus on automation in the labor market, it is understandable that people are becoming more concerned with how technology will impact our lives. Some worry it could render human input into the markets entirely obsolete, demolish the middle class, and create a chasm of economic inequality. Others just worry about their paycheck and supporting themselves or their families for the foreseeable future.

At the end of the day, no one can say for sure what the timeline is going to be; we simply do not know. However, we can devise ways today to adapt to a changing job market and economy. We’ve done it before during the first, second, and third industrial revolutions, and we can do it again as we enter the fourth industrial revolution.

Automation is All Around Us

It seems as though everywhere we look, we are seeing a dramatic increase in automation of lower-skilled jobs across the board. Computer kiosks for ordering food in the McDonald’s dining rooms, new cashierless grocery stores opened by Amazon and 7-Eleven, and even robots in Walmart that scan shelves to take inventory in a fraction of the time a human needs, all point to the fact that these jobs will soon be automated away.

And, it’s not just these low-skilled jobs that will soon become obsolete as the world moves forward. These are only the first wave of jobs to go. Even some skilled labor such as construction, product design, and a whole slew of others are not safe from automation. In fact, all you need to do to see if your job is being automated away is to Google a job plus the word “robot” or “automation”. You will likely see that there is a company somewhere working to make human labor obsolete in that sector.

Disrupt, or Be Disrupted, Is the Motto of the 2020s

If you as an individual or as a business owner are not thinking of ways to disrupt the industry you specialize in, someone else is and it will be you who face the other end of the scenario. In other words, it is now more important than ever to adapt to the times, or just give up and let the world move on without your business.

Now, this may sound like a pretty dire situation. However, quite the contrary. It is actually one of the most exciting times in human history, if you so choose to look at it this way. The reason is because even though the old ways are beginning to disappear, the opportunity for innovation has never been greater!

Adopting the philosophy of working toward disruption instead of succumbing to it is fueling an explosive growth in new training opportunities and startups. So, even if you’re not quite sure how to become a disruptor, the reasons to seek out how to become one are growing and so is access to innovative ways to achieve it.

Bootcamps Are the Wave of the Future

Coding bootcamps started the wave of the future by reducing the time it takes to gain the skills needed to break into the tech industry. In fact, the momentum they started is only growing in intensity. In 2019, 33,959 students attended coding bootcamps which signifies a 4.38% growth rate over 2018.

It is not only possible, but entirely probable, that the education industry is going to emulate the success of coding bootcamps for other skills that will become more in-demand as automation continues. For instance, Outschool is already disrupting the K-12 education industry by providing tailored courses for students that offer a blended learning environment. Students can gain traditional skills while also having the opportunity to advance skills where they excel the most.

By accelerating the learning process and allowing students to better customize it to their natural skills and passions, there is no doubt that education and skills training will never be the same. Moreover, it allows educators to focus more on skills that are more useful during this time of transition to more automation. That’s a win-win for everyone involved.



Invaluable Skills of the Future

We must face the fact that not everyone will succeed at becoming a programmer. But, that’s actually a good thing. We want to maintain diversity in the labor market and in business.

So, what other skills will become invaluable in the fourth industrial revolution?

  • Personal skills - Learning better personal skills such as mindfulness, stress management, assertiveness, and much more will never go out of style.

  • Interpersonal skills - These skills are as important now as ever before. Being a skilled communicator, conflict resolver or having mediation skills, and possessing emotional intelligence could put you way ahead of those who lack those skills.

  • Leadership skills - One of the most in-demand skill sets across the board, and especially in the tech industry is leadership skills. Startups and corporations alike need people who can take control of a project, assume responsibility for it, and see it through to completion.

  • Learning skills - The world will need more coaches to guide individuals and businesses to honing the talents of the organization to remain agile in a changing world. If you can teach people how to think, not just what to think, you will likely have no shortage of demand for your services.

  • Presentation skills - Even though we see some innovation coming around where holograms or artificial intelligence-aided avatars do some impressive presentations, this is one skill for humans where demand isn’t going away any time soon.

  • Writing skills - The demand for skilled writers for everything from blogs to newsletters to speeches is only on the rise in this new age of technology. Effective writers can convey information in ways that other media, such as video, just cannot.

  • Other technological and scientific skills - As new innovations arise, so will the need for various types of technological and scientific skills. Explore various areas to find one that intrigues you.

  • Futurism skills - Study the trends in every aspect of technology and its impact on our lives. Advancements are happening every day from colonizing the moon or Mars to mining asteroids for resources to ending biological aging in humans. Knowing where an industry is heading can help you become an indispensable asset to guide others into the future.

The list of skills that you can begin to develop today goes on and on. The sooner you get a jump on learning these new skills, the more secure your place in the economy will be. Overall, remember that technology is simply a tool for us to advance in exciting new ways: it is not an enemy to be feared. It encourages us to better ourselves and push beyond the self-imposed limits we implement. Use the tool to your greatest advantage.


About the Author

Artur Meyster

Artur Meyster is the CTO of Career Karma (YC W19), an online marketplace that matches career switchers with coding bootcamps. He is also the host of the Breaking Into Startups podcast, which features people with non-traditional backgrounds who broke into tech.

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