You might become not just exploited, but something far worse — irrelevant — as the world changes rapidly and the most unequal societies that have ever existed quickly become reality
Will your job still exist 10 years from now?
As technological advancements like artificial intelligence and robotics become more and more of a reality with each passing day there’s no doubt that the world — and the way we live in it — is changing at a rapid rate and that soon we’ll have to sprint to catch up, especially in the workplace. If you’ve read philosopher Yuval Noah Harari’s latest book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, you may well be quaking in your boots as he predicts, in the chapter entitled Work, that the future of humans on this planet may look something like this: “Big Data algorithms might create the most unequal societies that ever existed. All wealth and power might be concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite, while most people will suffer not from exploitation, but from something far worse — irrelevance.”
What Harari is essentially saying is that the people who own the technology will be all-powerful, while those who haven’t managed to keep up with the changing times will be rendered obsolete. Already the richest 1% owns half the world’s wealth, and the richest hundred people together own more than the poorest four billion. As Harari alarmingly points out: “It’s very dangerous to be redundant. The future of the masses will then depend on the goodwill of a small elite. Maybe there is goodwill for a few decades. But in a time of crisis it would be very tempting to toss the superfluous people overboard.”
A survey released last week found that only 23.8% of respondents were confident that their current skills would see them employed, even only in 10 years from now.
Luckily, the same survey — the MasterStart South African Workforce Barometer — also found an encouraging openness among respondents to evolve their skills in order to stay relevant. About 95% of people surveyed were open to lifelong learning, with 80% planning to study in the future.
One solution to the problems of the cost and availability of furthering education in order to stay economically viable is to study online.
Andrew Johnston, CEO of MasterStart — an online learning provider — says online education has made lifelong learning efficient and accessible. “Online learning has experienced unprecedented growth in a short amount of time, which demonstrates people’s persistent desire to bridge capability gaps and cement themselves as assets. This gives people globally relevant skill-sets. Our survey results indicate that the SA workforce believes that learning is the best way to future-proof careers.”
Johnston believes that skills must evolve through study in order for employees to retain their economic value.
These are his lessons for maintaining relevance in the workforce:
● Become an indispensable asset “By making the decision to consistently enhance your skills, you’ll equip yourself to remain an asset — a flexible person able to pivot as the need arises. You’ll be able to stay ahead of industry advancements, understand new techniques and developments within your field and be equipped to play a leading role in your job as it evolves.”
● Boost earnings “Making learning a lifelong commitment will give you leverage over your competition.”
● Build self-confidence “One of the main ingredients for success. Improving your expertise and skills will give you the confidence to progress in your career as you won’t feel threatened by others.”
Make better decisions in the ●
workplace “It’s a no-brainer that by gaining a better understanding of the intricacies that come with performing your role you’ll be able to make better decisions. This is why they say knowledge is power.”
Become a well-respected employee
“Be generous with your knowledge and become a go-to resource for others; this is one of the best ways to establish yourself as a leader.” ● LS