What does the future hold for the world of work?

What does the future hold for the world of work?

It has been said that the future belongs to those who prepare for it today. Nowhere is this more true than in the world of work, with the near future set to see some of the most significant changes humanity has ever seen. 

A society that encompasses widespread Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer confined to science fiction. From self-service checkouts to automated phone services, the first stirring of AI has quietly developed an everyday presence in our lives with many of us not really noticing. This is only the start of a trend that will have the most dramatic impact on the way the world works since the Industrial Revolution.

This transformation was the subject of a think tank session we hosted at the Australasian Talent Conference (ATC) in Sydney. Alongside leading HR and talent acquisition professionals, we talked about what the future has in store for the world of work, with a particular focus on the rise of AI. The group responses to questions about the future of work are displayed in the pictures below.

suggestion box business

One issue that was discussed was that while technology is set to displace many jobs, new positions will also be created. For instance, as 3D printing becomes prevalent, a need for skilled technicians will arise. In other positions that are taken over by AI, a level of human interaction will still be required as the technology develops, although this will be phased out once a certain level of maturity is reached.

Also discussed was the fact that the rise of AI may temporarily be slowed by political and social factors. Technology is already at a level where a large number of jobs could be automated, but external pressures mean this hasn't yet been implemented. For example, GM could have followed Tesla's lead by automating its entire production lines, but political pressure means it has yet to do so.

Such factors are only likely to prove temporary delays, however, and AI will eventually assume all of the roles for which it is suitable. This naturally gives rise to fears that humans will be displaced from the world of work entirely, but this will be not be the case. The world of work will certainly be changed, but it will not be destroyed. Every technological innovation has had a transformative impact - just think how different the workplace was before computers and the internet.

The type of jobs people will fill will be different, as will the skills these roles require. One possibility discussed at ATC was that predictable jobs and income will become less common, with people needing to develop a wider variety of skills to help them find work.

Moving with change

So, what should we be doing to prepare for these changes?  HR and talent acquisition must not try to fight the transformation of the world of work, but instead adapt to it as effectively as possible.

enhance your workforce by employing multi-skilled workers

We should start thinking about the jobs of the future that will not be assumed by AI and focus on how people can develop the skills needed to fill these roles. Knowledge sharing will play a key role in this process and now is the time to start creating a network of symbiotic mentoring within your business to make this possible.

By having one eye on tomorrow today, your business will be in the best position to move forward with the future, rather than being stuck watching as it leaves you behind.

Posted 9/2/2015 By Simon Townsend

With a background in recruitment as an Online Sourcing Specialist, Simon has spent the past 6 years specializing in driving Innovation with Allegis Global Solutions and previously Deloitte. Over the past 15 years Simon has worked closely with technology and...
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