Future-proofing yourself and your career

Posted on Thursday, 08 Mar 2018


Jaguar Land Rover Futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson

Historically, the workforce as always been pretty fluid – as employment requirements waned in one industry, they grew in another, and people eventually learned new skills and flowed across. Economists point to the historical changing nature of work as reason not to fear the robots coming for your job. But work is changing at a faster rate, and technological advances are affecting more people than ever before. So how do you protect yourself and train for jobs that might not exist yet?

1. Assess – and reassess – your skills and strengths

Many tools are available online to help you highlight your thinking skills and strengths while also highlighting areas for development. (Some are better than others, so start with this Forbes list of the most effective.) Work on building your strengths, and think about ways you can focus these strengths – either in your existing job or a new, emerging career. Also work on polishing the areas you are weaker in, especially if these are in the more humanistic 'soft skills' areas of creativity, innovation and collaboration as they won't be robotocised as quickly as left-brained skills.

These types of ‘thinking outside the box’ and working productively – with other humans and with computers are the type of areas that artificial intelligence and computers will find hard to replicate (on the near horizon) – and so having strengths in these areas will make you less of a target for technological unemployment.

Jaguar Land Rover Technology with Heart Futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson

*Jaguar Land Rover futurist-in-Residence Anders Sorman-Nilsson keynotes at the 'Technology with Heart' conference in London

2. Stay curious

No matter your age or career, you need to remain constantly curious about how you can apply your human thinking and creativity skills and strengths to the changing workforce. Along with canvassing and working to what you’re good, you need to be ready to augment this with new skills. Don’t make the mistake of over-investing in your education in the first 20 to 25 years of your life and instead commit to lifelong learning.

Try to develop continuous curiosity about the changes happening around you, and continuous learning on how to educate yourself as needed and grow to take advantage of these changes.

Become a learner of how to learn!

This is the best way to make sure you don’t get left behind as technology and artificial intelligence grow exponentially, bringing with them widespread change.

Anders Train Kids Jobs

I recently chatted with Adam Straney on Talking Lifestyle Radio about these ideas and how we might equip our children for jobs that don’t yet exist. The topic is relevant for anyone, no matter their age, and you can listen to the full interview here.

Start thinking about future possibilities

I often say everyone should try to be a futurist (there’s room enough for many more). Put your science (or even science fiction) hat on and try to imagine possible scenarios for the next few decades. Then consider how likely these are to occur and how you can best prepare for the most likely (and maybe even improbable yet disruptive worst case) scenarios. So, what are some likely jobs of the future? To start your thinking, consider these options:

  • Drone traffic managers: Drones are set to take over the air space (up to around 150 metres, at least) and are set to become a billion dollar industry over the next decade. They’ll perform everything from deliveries to beaming internet access to remote corners of the earth. Not only will careers emerge in the development, flying, monitoring and management of all this drone traffic, but defence forces across the globe will also be hiring drone pilots. Who will be the best person at flying a drone? Probably someone who grew up playing virtual computer games and is skilled with controls – so starting working on your gaming now (if you’re not already).
  • Coding ethicists: As I’ve talked about previously, the coding for self-driving cars will need to be so much more than just getting from point A to point B –  when that journey involves other cars. (And particularly cars driven by humans, prone to human /inhumane error.) So, the cars will also need ethical coding – to be applied when facing an imminent accident, for example. This means coding is not just going to be about the ones and zeros but coding for ethical decision making.
  • Experience creators: As the world becomes increasingly digitised, we’ll see an emergence of the Transformation Economy, where we look for experiences and self-development to transform ourselves. Companies such as Nike and Crossfit, as well as specialists such as psychologists, are now tapping into the fact we want to transform or better ourselves. Nike used to just sell shoes, but through Nike Plus and Running Club they are enabling us to monitor our performance to become better human beings.

Transformation Economy Futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson

I recently spoke with News.com.au about some of my thoughts on jobs of the future, and you can read the full article here.

To find out what insights I could bring to your industry and business, via in-house events or conference presentations, click the link below.

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