Jobs of the Future, Written by Phil Ventresca, M.B.A.

We hear so much about the “jobs of the future” yet so little about what that means. The challenge that employees and employers share in regards to this dilemma is the unknown. Overcoming the unknown is, and will always be, the challenge of a visionary leader.

Saying you are a visionary, a futurist, or even an entrepreneur does not mean you have the ability to see the future. The best way to look ahead is by evaluating the trajectory of trends and then aligning the imbedded elements of change impact from them, into future looking assumptions. Once you craft a list of assumptions, the next step is to validate them by testing theory and building in flexibility to accept the moving target.

Learning, Talent, and HR Managers are entering one of the most challenging and exciting times I can recall in this industry.  As professionals in these roles we have the responsibility to build staff, train them, and retain the human capital of the future.

I do not subscribe to the theory that massive jobs will be lost to robots, I do not fear that over used and mis-understood term, “disruptive,” nor do I feel that the future is so unknown that we cannot plan.  Business history has shown us time and time again, that change is constant and the people and organizations that prevail are the ones who embrace it and plan along the trajectory of the trend:

1. Consider skills as though they were tools.  This will force you to step back and consider what you are building rather than who is building it.  In other words, there may be some augmentation that renders the craftsman less meaningful in one way, yet a different version of the same craftsman may be needed with another tool.

2. Never underestimate the need to change.  Waking up each day and seeking out change for the sake of change is not productive. However, keeping the need to change on your progressive checklist is mandatory to the concept of “trajectory based progress.”

3. Promote incremental growth.  Ideas will not keep you on target. Validated ideas that maintain focus on the target will always remind you of “why” change is happening. Small steps still add up to strides, yet you will have better agility to change direction in a skip, rather than a jump.

4. Understand your business.  Learning managers can no longer be on the outside looking in.  Today, you must understand the mission, vision, and operational needs of your business partners and then tie the talent, growth, and skills into a performance rendering package.

5. Don’t seek to disrupt, seek to collaborate.  Being disruptive and contrarian does not mean you are an agent of change, it could just mean you are “disruptive.” Promote productive change by staying aligned to the assumed trajectory with an eye for course changes.  This drives collaboration and embraces the wider “vision.”

Summary

As leaders we must embrace change, look to the future, and become a contributor of solutions. Thinking about and documenting what will be different in our industries and then asking this question: what skills will our “people” need to be valued contributors?  This sounds simple, yet it resides in the complexity of the unknown. Herein lies the opportunity we have to be “thinkers” and problem solvers and to do so with a keen eye on the trajectory.  Lost jobs can become new ones, old skills can become refreshed and PEOPLE will always have a place in business. Fear is a distractor, be strategic in your planning and an amazing world of opportunity awaits us all.

Research

  1. Future Jobs: Solving the Employment and Skills Crisis, by Edward E. Gordon