Sunday Times

FORE­CAST

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

- Productivity · Career · Business Trends · Lifehacks · Business · Yuval Noah Harari · 21 Lessons for the 21st Century · Andrew Johnston

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

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