2025: The chang­ing world of work

Finweek English Edition - - IN BRIEF - BY LAMEEZ OMAR­JEE

The world is on the brink of an his­tor­i­cal era shift sim­i­lar to the Re­nais­sance, Ref­or­ma­tion and Industrial Revo­lu­tion, says fu­tur­ist Graeme Co­dring­ton. He de­scribes this change as a “deep struc­tural shift” where new tech­nol­ogy, eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties and so­ci­etal struc­tures emerge.

Co­dring­ton, found­ing direc­tor of strate­gic in­sights firm To­mor­rowTo­day, sug­gests four ways in which this change will im­pact the world of work by 2025:


Half of the jobs that ex­ist to­day (in­clud­ing doc­tors, ac­tu­ar­ies and ac­coun­tants) will be re­dun­dant as au­to­ma­tion takes over. In ad­di­tion to ro­bots, al­go­rithms which in­te­grate hard­ware and soft­ware sys­tems will make de­ci­sions. “It hap­pened to the farm­ers 100 years ago; it hap­pened to the fac­to­ries 50 years ago. Now the ma­chines are com­ing for your job,” says Co­dring­ton.


About 25% of the peo­ple work­ing in of­fices will be free­lancers. “We will have the ‘on-de­mand econ­omy’,” says Co­dring­ton. Em­ploy­ers will only get the skills they need, when they need them. Cur­rently, web­sites like Elance, TaskRab­bit and Free­lancer al­low free­lancers to advertise their skills.

“It’s kind of like an e-Bay for skills,” he says. The em­ployer spec­i­fies the job re­quired on­line, peo­ple present bid for the job and the em­ployer gets to pick the cheap­est per­son. Jobs are now be­ing done at a “dig­i­tal dis­tance”.


ex­ist as ev­ery­one can en­ter the dig­i­tal age with­out re­stric­tion. “If we can give peo­ple free Wi-Fi, free cloud stor­age and a R500 smart­phone, every­body gets to play.”


The world’s best uni­ver­si­ties will be putting their best cour­ses on­line, for free. Plat­forms like Cours­era are al­ready of­fer­ing a num­ber of free cour­ses from uni­ver­si­ties in­clud­ing Columbia, Johns Hop­kins, Van­der­bilt and Pek­ing Uni­ver­sity. ED­U­CAT­ING CHIL­DREN FOR THE FU­TURE Michelle Lis­soos, man­ag­ing direc­tor at Think Ahead So­lu­tions, says that chil­dren cur­rently en­ter­ing the school sys­tem will be walk­ing into the world of work de­scribed by Co­dring­ton – their jobs don’t ex­ist yet. “Chil­dren won’t be get­ting jobs from the For­tune 500 com­pa­nies but rather in small mi­cro-en­ter­prises,” says Nikki Bush, a par­ent­ing ex­pert.

Schools have to pre­pare stu­dents for this “non-ex­is­tent” work­place. How­ever, de­spite there be­ing change in in­dus­tries such as bank­ing, health and trans­port, class­rooms haven’t changed, says Lis­soos. Schools have to re­de­fine 21st cen­tury lit­er­acy which in­volves lead­er­ship, dig­i­tal lit­er­acy, emo­tional in­tel­li­gence, en­trepreneur­ship, global cit­i­zen­ship, team-work­ing and prob­lem solv­ing with cog­ni­tive skills. Stu­dents should learn how to cu­rate and crit­i­cally eval­u­ate in­for­ma­tion. Cod­ing is be­ing in­tro­duced into cur­ricu­lums be­cause it teaches prob­lem solv­ing, crit­i­cal anal­y­sis, col­lab­o­ra­tion and team work, says Lis­soos.

Many schools make the mis­take of in­tro­duc­ing tech­nol­ogy that does not bring real change. “There is a lot of sub­sti­tu­tion but no re­def­i­ni­tion,” says Lis­soos. For ex­am­ple, she says, black boards are sim­ply re­placed with white boards; it does not change how stu­dents are taught. Tech­nol­ogy should be ac­com­pa­nied by project-based and chal­lenge-based learn­ing, adds Lis­soos. Ad­di­tion­ally, tech­nol­ogy in­te­gra­tion should be part of teacher train­ing. She ex­plains that there are big roll­outs of tech­nol­ogy. Tablets are handed out and con­nec­tiv­ity is im­proved at schools but teach­ers are not trained to work with it, she says.

Things have changed sig­nif­i­cantly, says Bush, and both chil­dren and busi­nesses should be pre­pared for an “un­cer­tain re­al­ity”. She says cor­po­rates should work to­gether with schools in terms of shar­ing re­sources and in­form­ing schools of their needs and skills short­ages.

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