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Future-proof your career

Updated: Jul 8


futuristic photo of light waves

Way before the pandemic, business journals and websites were full of articles warning that the jobs that we are all doing would no longer exist in 2, 5 or 10 years time. 

In the low-paid end of the service sector automation would replace most jobs, whereas at the more professional end, traditional professions such as accountancy and engineering would see their work dramatically altered by AI - rendering parts of their role obsolete.


Prior to COVID19 such articles were largely dismissed as “interesting - but not coming any time soon” - however, the pandemic has shown that we can change our ingrained behaviour when we need to, we are able to be resilient in the face of change and we able to find better ways to work and spend our time.


Taking charge of your career


The implications for government policy to create a fair and equal society in an age of automation and possible job scarcity are also being discussed, such as universal basic income. But assuming to want to take charge of your own career, and get yourself in the best possible position for when all this happens (and it will happen), then what should you do now?


The most obvious answer may seem to get a qualification in coding or AI or robotics. This will definitely be the way forward for some people (and something I would like to encourage my teenage sons to think about for the future), but being a technical expert is not the answer for everyone. Being tech-literate however, is definitely a required skill - you need to be able to understand what tech can do for your organisation, the basic principles and limitations of each technology and have the ability to speak a common language with the specialists. 


Artificial intelligence, whilst getting more accomplished by the day, is not yet able to convey the wide range of skills that a human can, particularly around emotional intelligence. So develop your competencies in the areas that computers are unlikely to be able to perform in the mid-term. The bonus is that these are valued by employers now - so what do you have to lose?



small Asian girl holding hands with a robot

There are many lists of these online but my top 5 would be these:


Leadership

Leadership is changing. Even over the course of the last four months, leadership has mutated from being about managing a physical team in a fixed location with standard working hours and a broadly unchanging agenda to one of managing a virtual team, coping with an uncertain future, dealing with unfamiliar working environments and with a requirement to communicate ever-changing messages based on ambiguous data. A command and control style is not going to work - you need to be able to delegate effectively and let go - which may also involve holding up a mirror to any personal perfectionist tendencies. As time goes on, leadership may involve managing resources other than humans - how do you delegate the right work to humans and the right work to machines?


Effective decision making


The science behind decision making is fascinating - some elements are logical and some emotional. Decision making includes an element of critical thinking (although most will be performed by AI), but also weighing up the evidence, and finding the best solution for a complex problem in an ever-changing environment. A key skill going forward will be discerning the integrity of the data used - being able to determine the risk of bias in the data and the implications of decision making on the wider ecosystem. Computer modelling will do the