I am 64 today and NOT a door to door salesman. What will the workforce look like in 64 years time?

Article by Michael Chesterman

The famous Beatles song “When I’m 64” popped into my mind last week because today, 30 July 2018 I have reached this milestone.

Some people look upon getting old as a drag. I don’t. It’s a privilege to get old. I have already outlived my father by 5 years. I am sure my 3 mates who died in a car accident during our final year school exams would gladly swap places with me if they could.

I distinctly remember the moment my parents gave me my 13th birthday present in 1967. It was the Beatles album “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” of which the the song “when I’m 64” featured. I loved the album but at that time I could not relate to this particular song because I did not know anyone that old. The significance of this is not lost on me today !!

A week or so after my 13th birthday I also recall another event, this time not so pleasant. I sat for an ‘IQ test’, which at that time was the basis for the government giving career advice to impressionable young teenagers.

The results came in a week or so later and and I remember walking into a school office, with my head full of Beatles music and other normal things a 13 year old boy would be thinking, to be told by a male career advisor wearing an ill fitting paisley suit, floral tie and having the worst comb over hair I have ever seen, that based on my IQ results I would make a excellent door to door salesmen!!!

I recall thinking, “yeah right” or words to that affect and to this day, either right or wrong, I have done things my way.

Life rule number 1. Never let anyone define who who are. That is your responsibility.

Life rule number 2. Never break life rule number 1!!

Over the years I have sought to offset my ‘modest’ IQ by working hard, displaying reasonable social traits and most importantly, having a keen sense of empathy for the trials and tribulations of others. I always try and understand life from other people’s perspective. I am told this is “emotional intelligence”.

Everything I did whilst working for the building and construction industry regulator in Queensland for 22 years, was based on a belief that first and foremost I had to gain an understanding of the different pressures and challenges that those in the construction industry faced, and then if appropriate to persuade others that some action or change was necessary in order to assist them. I never assumed anything and I learnt that no two building and construction businesses are the same.

Fast forward to today and I adopt exactly the same process with people who contact us at Helix Legal for assistance. However I am also able to delve into all my industry knowledge and insight to be able to contribute to providing tailored solutions to issues confronting “our people”.

For example the QBCC has key legislation and policies currently in effect that I have an intimate knowledge on. After working in a ‘regulatory bubble’ for 22 years I also know how government policy and legislation people think — in terms of developing and implementing industry initiatives and react — to approaches questioning their actions or proposed initiatives. For example there are certain words or phrases that will catch their attention.

I always apply this knowledge and insight when providing input on the formation of solutions for those who ask for my help. It is a wonderfully fusion of law and insight which I know serves those we help well. I have an aversion to using the word “clients”. To me, they are “our people” from the time we agree to try and help them find a solution to a problem or issue they have.

In a report entitled ‘Digital Megatrends, a perspective on the coming decade of digital disruption’ (‘Digital report’) by CSIRO’s Data61 Insight Team, it is stated on page 9 that:

“Recent times have seen breathtaking achievements in artificial intelligence and automated systems. Computers and robotics are now solving complex problems using self-generated strategies. The ability of computerised systems to solve problems without explicit rules, instructions or guidance from human beings is core to this transformation in technological capability. The coming decade will see significant advances in sensory systems, machine learning, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence generally. This will be associated with more widespread deployment of automated systems with impacts on the workforce. Artificial intelligence is set to improve safety and efficiency across all industry sectors. It has the capacity to transform human existence and deliver improved quality of life. However, there will be legal, ethical and social challenges as we adapt to an artificial intelligence enabled world.”

On reading this my immediate reaction was great, computers, robots or whatever new AI machines will in the future solve all the complex problems so who needs a high IQ !!

To all you really smart and intelligent people out there, please know I am only having a bit of fun at my own expense. The way I see things you will be even more valuable in the digital workforce of the future because of being freed up from having to do mundane tasks that the machines can do.

The building and construction industry is currently undergoing rapid transformation as a result of digital and other forms of disruption. I addressed this phenomenon in my article entitled Regulation v Innovation.

There will be many wonderful opportunities for people working in the industry of the future, but there are also challenges stakeholders and governments should be addressing now in order to facilitate the transformation of the industry in an efficient and orderly manner.

Finally, I do have to take issue with McCartney and Lennon with one of the verses of ‘when I’m 64’, namely:

I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more

Who could ask for more? Sorry McCartney and Lennon, I would go absolutely bonkers doing those things so my ride with Helix Legal will continue long into the future.

I would also like to invite you and your team to get future fit on 13 August 2018 at the home of Helix Legal, The Capital. If you are interested in what is just over the horizon and how you get ready for it bring your team along. As with all of our innovation series events you will also hear from those at the forefront of change in the construction industry.