Earlier this month, my mother hired the usual worker we use for our yard duties to clean the gutters. It’s finally that weird Fall/Winter season in Houston, TX where leaves are falling and the temperature swings between lows in the 40s and highs in the 60s.
Yes, I was too lazy to clean the gutters. However, because of laziness, we were stimulating the economy. And — for those of you who are wondering, yes, I did move back in with my mom.
The worker climbed his ladder to reach our roof. Cranked his blower on and went to town on the brown leaves invading our gutters. He was prompt to the jobsite, worked quickly, proceeded safely, and clean. A+.
As I watched him worked, I pondered how his job, and the many others that fell into this realm of work, would change function or even disappear in the next 5–10 years. Would he have to pick up new skills every couple of years? Go back to school to learn computer science? Take tax dollars from the tax payers for unemployment? How is the government going to fix all of this?
It was quite overwhelming, so I decided to read on it.
In my previous post, I explored my take on the challenge for employers and employees to reach the optimum match. In this post, I will highlight some insights from the modern trends in the workplace.
What is happening in the world as summarized below, whether we like it or not, adds complexity to what it means to work in the 21st century.
Some trends from my non-expert analysis are as follows:
Technology is Here to Stay
The technology sector is booming and has many drivers to sustain this growth. As seen in the lower half of the graphic below, from the World Economic Forum (WEF), most of the drivers are topics that are new and quickly developing. Many of the changes such as Big Data and crowdsourcing are hot topics and are widely discussed on Medium if you ever need a primer.
Tech is king, and it will continue to be a force that will make or break future companies.
Though there is this push to become more automated as a society, one of the main pieces that is causing friction is the talent shortage. As LinkedIn wrote:
Data scientist roles have grown over 650 percent since 2012, but currently 35,000 people in the US have data science skills, while hundreds of companies are hiring for those roles — even those you may not expect in sectors like retail and finance — supply of candidates for these roles cannot keep up with demand.
650% percent! People, this trend is real. In the next 5–10 years, the role of the data scientist and jobs alike will change and morph parallel to technology.
Expect the Unexpected
Technology is not the only aspect of the workplace that is changing. The work force demographic is changing. In America, the baby-boom generation is aging, more Asian and Hispanic people are expected to enter the workplace, and women are a large group that will continue to integrate into the workplace. Moreover, the WEF states:
In many industries and countries, the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even five years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate. By one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.
With this information, the concern I have is how poorly our education system will support this rapid change and growth. As a result, we may see a growth in the teaching industry where the curriculum matches what the market demands. A tough, but necessary problem to solve. And potentially an area worth innovating in.
This information probably has a lot of other implications, and it is up to the CEOs, presidents, and parents to ensure that the next generations stand strongly against the pace of change instead of being wiped out by it.
Women’s integration into the workplace has been met with natural, but necessary growing pains. As seen in the figure below, many of the respondents in the WEF survey this year admitted that unconscious bias and lack of work-life balance are the top barriers to women’s workforce incorporation.
The former speaks to lack of self-understanding among organizational leadership. The latter reflects the larger topic of discussing and understanding what it means to be a working woman in the 21st century. It is important to cultivate self-reflection as a means to understand and minimize the roots of these problems in a healthy way.
To add some brightness to the issue, the figure below demonstrates the key drivers that will assist in creating a fair workplace. Drivers such as equality and enhancing innovation are cultural shifts that will push against the common patriarchal views. The future of women’s position in the workplace will be a mixture of propelling business needs and chipping away against old societal norms.
With the evolution of technology and workforce demographics, business leaders will need to be mindful of the consequences of pertinent decisions concerning these areas. The workplace has an exciting future, and let’s ensure that the future generations will be appropriately prepared for their careers ahead of them.