The Uncertainty of Future Work

Originally published at:

I just found a great article in Linkedin about the uncertainty of future work, and I thought that it was worth a discussion. Here you have the original article that inspired this post.

Technology is accelerating the pace of business at unthinkable speeds, so much so that the job you have today is changing as quickly as you read this page

As shown in the previous image, we are suffering a paradigm shift in the way we work and we live. This may be clear now with technologies such as cloud computing and smartphones, but it will become even clearer after AI, IOT and blockchain technology are widely adopted, and even more clear with the first commercial quantum computer or cyber-physical systems. Our parents were pretty certain that if they went to college, they would find a job, and they would be able to work hard until they could retire and enjoy calmly their last years live. They didn’t have to handle a high level of uncertainty in their work lives apart from the general stress work generates. They would work all their lives for one or two companies and they, most probably, would have not needed to learn several more things than the ones they learnt in college to keep their jobs.

For young people know this have completely changed. We need to become more used to uncertainty. What we learned in college is probably already updated after just a two or three years after finishing, so we have to keep learning every day of our lives. The mindset of working in the same company for several years is dead. With the continuous advances in technology, jobs will keep appearing and disappearing (and with them many companies), so we will have to learn to adapt and prepare ourselves for “the next big thing” that will allow us to be employable and make a living.

Wee need to start getting comfortable being uncomfortable

Thus, there will probably appear three main groups of people in the future’s work force:

  • People who do not embrace uncertainty and that will have a hard time to adapt to new technologies and find new jobs. They will be what we may call now the lower class and will probably be supported by one of these government basic income plans that everyone is talking about to fix the unemployment due to the digitalisation of the economy.
  • People who embrace uncertainty and non-stop learners that learn to adapt to changes, and that will keep finding their way to make a living and find a place in the digitalised economy. This will be our current middle class and will be conformed by smart individuals with skills difficult to digitalised or be performed by a machine such as creative thinking, judgement and decision, time management, etc. In the following image we may see an analysis of the skills that make people more employable. The ones that will be searched for in the future, and hard to digitalise, are the ones in the top of the list.
  • People who lead change. These are the ones that will really take the opportunities hidden in this world of uncertainty. It is true that a great part of the economy has been already digitalized, but there is still a great way to go. And this change will be exponential. These individuals are the ones that will shape the future creating the technologies that the non-stop learners will pick up in order to get a job, as well as creating the businesses that will give them their jobs. We are already watching this environment born with the increase in the amount of startups and all the entrepreneurial environment appearing in many parts of the world.
Why is Learning Uncertainty so important? Bear this in mind that according to research by the McKinsey Global Institute only a fraction of our economies have been digitised: 18% of the US, 17% of the UK, 12% of France, and 10% of Germany.

I would like to close the post citing the article mentioned at the beginning:

Rather than learning with certainty, we believe the greatest opportunity rests with those who embrace “learning uncertainty”. Learning uncertainty is the agency and agile mindset that empowers now and future generations to thrive in a rapidly shifting economy that shifts from one set of known experiences to another at break neck pace.

Without question, it is this velocity of change will be difficult for many. Yet it is also a tremendous opportunity for those who are ready to lead the shift into learning to manage uncertainty. This new mindset enables you not only to survive the onslaught of change, but to thrive in it.

So this is a call to action to everyone to stop complaining about how they do not find a job and how difficul the future seems, and I urge you to start embracing change (because along with death are the two most certain things in life).