Future-Proof Training: Getting Ready For Jobs That Don’t Exist Yet

Living in the age of technology and globalization means that Shift Happens at lightspeed: The top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004. We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet, using technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.In fact, students who are starting a four-year technical or college degree will discover that the knowledge they acquired in their first year will be irrelevant by the time they reach their third year. If changes happen that fast in education, what does it mean for the workplace? For companies?

Seven out of ten workers are currently in jobs where there is a great uncertainty about their future. And only one in ten workers is currently in an occupation that will grow in demand in the future. According to the experts from the Institute for the Future (IFTF), it was estimated that around 85% of the jobs of 2030 haven’t even been invented yet.

So how can people future-proof themselves and stay employed? How can companies develop their employees so they have the skills that the company will need in the future?

What will you do when AI comes for you?

HR Drive, commenting on The World Economic Forum Report, The Future of Jobs, states that “…60% of industry leaders think that mobile, cloud technology, big data and computing power will define our future workplace,” and that by 2020 such notions as advanced robotics, automated transportation, AI and machine learning will be widely used across the globe.

The question is, do we really have to worry? Does this mean that a lot of people will lose their jobs? Will technology totally replace people in the workplace? Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, doesn’t think that we will observe a massive unemployment wave, saying:

The answer to this question is NO. Jobs are NOT going away, they’re just changing. Every company has the opportunity to rethink its own customer and employee experience, and apply technology to make it better. In some cases this means changing jobs, but in most cases it means making jobs ‘better’, reducing cost and mundane tasks, and adding more value to customer interactions.

In other words, changes and a much greater use of technology in the workplace will mean that rethinking and reskilling will be a key part of companies’ future business plans. Rachel Maguire, Research Director of the Institute for the Future, adds a third component – a partnership between humans and technology. “We need to focus on what the new relationship between technology and people could look like and how we can prepare accordingly. If we engage in the hard work of empowering human-machine partnerships to succeed, their impact on society will enrich us all.”

How to gain a competitive advantage in business in the future

These are all interesting and even provocative visions of the future, but how can your company prepare for these major changes?

The first and most important thing you can do to keep up with changes in your industry and your market is to invest in your employees’ learning and development. Keep their skills current, even cutting-edge, so your company doesn’t get left behind.  Here is a list of must-haves for businesses to stay relevant and thrive in the future.

  1. Provide just-in-time training and microlearning. Fast-paced changes in your industry and your market will demand that your employees must learn fast on the job – and have the knowledge they need when they need it. Your company can’t afford to fall behind. To stay on top of fast-paced changes, start by recognizing that learning can’t happen separately from doing the job – it will become a part of your employees’ day-to-day work. Just-in-time training and microlearning provide a smooth connection between working and learning, offering clear and concise chunks of information when employees need it. And applying the new information in their jobs right after learning it helps employees to remember the new information, and helps to keep your company abreast of its competitors.
  2. Curate the training content you need. Beth Loeb Davies, Director of Learning and Development at Tesla, believes that L&D professionals don’t need to produce their own content in organizations as often as they did in the past. Instead, she recommends finding the right material and delivering it to those who need it when they need it. The process of searching for, evaluating, organizing and grouping relevant content together will be a new task. Also, L&D professionals will need to take into account the most appropriate ways to present the content to employees according to their preferred learning style, whether that is content provided in articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, or a combination of these methods. The goal is to teach employees what they need to know, just as they need to know it, in the way that helps them to learn most easily and retain the new skills and information.
  1. Ensure that your employees know how to learn. According to the Dell Technologies report, Emerging Technologies’ Impact on Society & Work in 2020, “the pace of change will be so rapid that people will learn “in-the-moment” using new technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality. The ability to gain new knowledge will be more valuable than the knowledge itself.” Since information will become outdated quickly, L&D professionals’ main responsibilities will be teaching employees to learn effectively and to filter and grab only the material that is necessary, and to constantly refresh and add to their knowledge.
  1. Build strong leadership. In the future, AI will likely possess almost all the highly sought-after skill sets. However, some human skills will always be needed, including leadership. Tom Brown, VP HR Americas and APAC at eBay, mentions that one way to prepare for the future is by investing in leadership. He believes that the future of work will demand skilled, empathetic leaders that combine a shared way of working with a meaningful purpose and values.
  1. Develop 21st-century skills. Many companies have a lot of experience in training their new hires and teaching them all the necessary hard skills for their job. However, the acquisition of professional knowledge and skills is only one aspect of a well-trained employee. In the future, soft skills will be a must since technology can’t think critically. The soft skills that will be in demand in 2020 include complex problem-solving ability, creativity, people management, emotional intelligence, negotiating skills, cognitive flexibility, judgment, decision-making, and the like.
  1. Get an agile learning platform. An effective learning platform is like a “backup buddy” that grows along with your corporate needs. Your learning platform should include security, a user-friendly interface, mobile learning support, interactivity and social functionality, 24/7 assistance for your customer support team, and modern analytics and metrics to track your employees’ progress and measure their performance. These constituents will facilitate the learning process and make it enjoyable – a win-win for the company and your employees.

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