Skills with Limited Shelf-Life

Jobs are nothing but products and services with a limited life-cycle. Many skills and competencies are certainly complex but have never been as volatile as now. Five years and $ 200 000 spent to get an MBA or to become a lawyer! After then, you discover in a business incubator that you wasted your time and your money. Legal departments have already invested in a Watson offspring, and smart investors skip the obsolete academic titles.

The Shift is Now

Half of the 20th-century jobs will be replaced in the next years by Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Cyber-Physical Systems and Cyberbots. They are working better and faster than human brains because they do what many humans can’t achieve as easily: learning by doing; communicating instantly with the others, augmenting the knowledge base steadily, creating fast-growing networks and working 24/7.

Half of the ten hottest jobs that didn’t exist a decade ago are also computerizable. Some of the smarter solutions offer even disrupting business models in their backend. “Become a crowd-funder, take part in the development of this disruptive app that creates a responsive web design, whenever you want. You get more independent, performant and by the way, a shareholder of a future million business.

“Think positively and train for the future jobs 20!” This could be the slogan pinned on our dashboards. But among the Top Ten of the future jobs with the brightest future, there are some tasks that you wouldn’t like to achieve. They are too badly paid.

The Tricky Time Machine

While political revolutions always pursue an aim, industrial revolutions don’t have any final purpose. They are work in progress, the faster, the better for their drivers. The digital revolution is accelerating the life-cycle of products, services, and skills. It reinvents itself at high-speed. That’s why the supporters of Josef Schumpeter’s creative destruction theory (1942) are wrong. The digital revolution destroys jobs faster than it creates new ones.

As a matter of fact, the accelerated change is only tricky for the working people, i.e. half of the working population in the developed countries, providing skills with a limited life-cycle. The tricky time machine of the digital revolution undermines silently the principles of the traditional learning, training, and working structures that the developed countries set up during the last 150 years together with their social system. But the European social system is already gone.

With the changing technological environment, workers, as well as markets, will have to reinvent themselves permanently and simultaneously. The list of the future obsolete jobs is very long and open end. Everybody can check whether his job profile is on the bright side of life or already discarded. Nevertheless, the existing trends on the US labor market are a chance for European workers. They get a little bit more time to reorganize their obsolete patterns.

The New Superhuman Challenge: Training at the Speed of Change

Training at the speed of changing technologies becomes a challenge for low-skilled workers as well as for knowledge workers with academic levels. Knowledge without STEM and digital skills provides no longer a premium access to the labour market. To maintain lifelong employability, skilled and unskilled workers will have to invest (heavily!) in training during their working life. They become the unwilling pioneers of an entirely new organization of learning, training, working and living.

How to Swim in Uncharted Waters

How to train for jobs that don’t yet even exist? Training programs for the Future Jobs 2020 have to be designed and developed from scratch by explorers who don’t have yet the expertise but just their design thinking. Only daredevils and venturers accept the risk to invest time and money in an uncertain issue. Thus, many companies don’t train workers anymore. On an exponential global labour market, they will always find the necessary talents for their (temporary) projects. But the workers won’t find just in time the jobs they need to survive.

It’s up to them to reorganize for resilience and reverse priorities. There are plenty of smarter alternatives than working for the new platform-capitalism.

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