Pre­par­ing for job dis­rup­tion


In the com­ing decade, half of all jobs will be dis­rupted by tech­nol­ogy and au­to­ma­tion. Some will change dra­mat­i­cally. Oth­ers will dis­ap­pear com­pletely, re­placed by jobs yet to be in­vented.

Those are among the pre­dic­tions high­lighted in RBC’s Hu­mans Wanted: How Cana­dian youth can thrive in the age of dis­rup­tion. But adults should also be think­ing about learn­ing, and how to up­grade their own skills and ad­vance their ca­reers, says CERIC, a Toronto-based char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion fo­cused on ca­reer de­vel­op­ment ed­u­ca­tion and re­search.

To­day more than ever, life­long learn­ing is tak­ing on a new ur­gency in the face of au­to­ma­tion and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI), the emer­gence of jobs of the fu­ture, and the con­tin­ued move to­ward ca­reers char­ac­ter­ized by part-time and tem­po­rary gigs.

“Decades ago, ca­reer­fo­cused learn­ing hap­pened in your late teens to early 20s,” says CERIC board chair John Horn. “You worked for a time and then you re­tired. Now, there are dis­rup­tive fac­tors at play. The rate of change is spec­tac­u­lar. Peo­ple are liv­ing longer and are ex­pect­ing to work in dif­fer­ent ways.”

Ad­vance­ments in AI and au­to­ma­tion are trans­form­ing the way we work, even in un­ex­pected fields such as law and cus­tomer ser­vice, RBC notes in its re­port. A port­fo­lio of skills like crit­i­cal think­ing, so­cial per­cep­tive­ness and com­plex prob­lem-solv­ing will help work­ers re­main com­pet­i­tive and re­silient.


Whether you’re a new grad, mid-ca­reer pro­fes­sional or ma­ture worker, you can ex­pect mul­ti­ple ca­reer tran­si­tions, which means you’ll need to rein­vent your tal­ents and re­de­fine ca­reer suc­cess. Plan­ning for those tran­si­tions will vary from one sec­tor to an­other and will be dif­fer­ent for every­one, Horn says.

He rec­om­mends re­flect­ing on your last five years of work. “What fed your soul and brought pas­sion or strong in­ter­est and good feel­ings out? Ask your­self: ‘What do I know I’m good at and what do peo­ple tell me I’m good at?’ How do your spouse/part­ner, friends, col­leagues and men­tors in your net­work see you? How does that com­pare to how you see your­self?”


As you trans­late those ob­ser­va­tions into the world of work, de­velop your skills ac­cord­ingly. “My best ad­vice is to start small and start free or cheap,” says Horn. Con­sider read­ing a book or an ar­ti­cle that ig­nites your pur­pose, ex­plore a mas­sive open on­line course (MOOC) and check out TED speak­ers.

“If you find some­thing and you don’t like it or it’s not what you thought it would be, it’s easy to walk away from or take a step back,” he says. “On the other hand, if you find your­self con­sum­ing the in­for­ma­tion and en­joy­ing it, de­vel­op­ing a skill and im­me­di­ately ap­ply­ing it, that’s go­ing to give you a clue about in­vest­ing more in terms of time, en­ergy and fi­nances.”


As you em­bark on your learn­ing jour­ney, you’ll need to let go of old habits, sys­tems and tools in or­der to adopt new ways to man­age ca­reer dis­rup­tion. ““Re­mem­ber, the pro­gram­ming lan­guages you’re learn­ing to­day will prob­a­bly be writ­ten by AI a few years from now,” says Horn.

“It im­por­tant to un­der­stand the land­scape and con­text and the im­pact of AI as op­posed to spe­cific pro­gram­ming lan­guage at spe­cific times. The meta skill peo­ple want to look at is learn­ing – how to learn, how to re­learn, how to un­learn.”

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