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.”
PREPARE TO UNLEARN
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.”