It’s all About Skills – not Jobs in the Future – Get Yourself Ready

The need to invest in re-skilling and re-tooling existing staff to ensure they remain relevant  in the new world of rapid automation and digitisation is now a key business priority. We just need to look to mainstream media and their focus on it to understand why this topic is now making its way onto board agendas.

This is an unprecedented time in human history.  While the agrarian transformation to mechanised manufacturing unfolded over several decades, the rate of technological progress we are experiencing will not allow for a seamless generational change in workforce skills and capabilities to match requirements of the new paradigm.  Individuals are now in a situation where they will have to transition mid-career using new skills, and have to have high adaptability to continually relearn as these skills evolve.

Leading firms have progressed to strategise and mobilise their efforts, but they also seem to have hit hurdles. Organisations are still struggling to understand what the impact these changes will have on their value chains and because of this, they don’t know where to direct their focus with any re-training, re-skilling or re-tooling of their staff.  Some firms have even restructured Human Resource Departments by establishing Chief Learning Officer or Chief Adaptability Officer Role. However, we still haven’t seen any enterprise-wide programmes addressing this critical issue.

More than ever before the individual now has to take personal control of the situation. In my previous article I looked at what this technological upheaval means, and called out the need for us as individuals to take personal ownership of our career journeys to ensure long term success. Here are some simple ways in which you can proactively progress this in your current job:

Embrace Change:

As we know change can be scary – especially if you’re not prepared or well-informed. Go out of your way to get engaged in the strategic direction of your company. Seek out the department or individual who is accountable for this function and get involved. Read your company Annual Reports, or anything else that looks at the strategic road-map so you can get a view on changes that are planned. Become a pioneer and reach out to others to create a community of passion around adaptability and change. This demonstrates you have a high level of ability to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty.

Participate in Change Initiatives:

There is no better way to learn that experientially. Volunteer to provide subject matter expertise into projects that may impact your department. Doing this means  you get early exposure to any technologies that will be introduced, and further increase your expertise through on-the-job training. Coaching, mentoring and sharing your knowledge is the next best way to learn - become known as the person who is open to show and tell and offer to present and communicate initiatives to your peers.

Understand your Contribution:  

By understanding how  you contribute to your company's bottom line will help you uncover areas where you  can improve through increasing your productivity by leveraging any automation or digital transformation. See where you will be able to do this best and then focus to get yourself skilled in this space. While wholesale jobs are becoming redundant as a result of automation, many new skills will still be needed to work alongside your digital buddy.  With a little focus you can create a resume of enviable skills, and through early interventions, become an expert who stands out with your peers.

Hopefully this gives you something to think about, as well as some ideas to navigate your career journey during these turbulent times. I would love to hear from you to see what strategies you are thinking about in this regard.