The White Collar Bomb That’s About To Go Off

Late last year I attended the 99U event at Deakin Edge in Melbourne along with hundreds of other creative minds. It turned out of all the seats in the venue I chose the lucky one and landed a free ticket to the 2016 Future of Work Conference. I had no idea at that time how that single ticket would change my perspectives on the value of my skills and drive a new found passion to empower others in understanding and de-risking themselves from the impacts of automation and technology on work as we know it.

I believe that the future of work will fundamentally shift in the next five to ten years due to the exponential growth and innovation in the areas of technology and automation.

I believe that white collar professionals will be the hardest hit by this evolution and will experience job challenges similar to those of the blue collar workers in the past.

Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte is the automation guru of Australia having delivered solutions such as driverless trucks on mine sites..along with many other automated innovations. According to Professor Durrant-Whyte

“aumomation is occurring in the middle, solving highly qualified jobs like Lawyers, Doctors, Accountants and eating out the middle of the job market not the bottom.”

Did you know cognitive computers will become the next wave of technological change with their sophistication able to solve complex problems autonomously along with them being able to consider new ways of doing things that we would never of thought of?

According to Professor Stephen Martin Chief Executive of CEDA (Committee of Economic Development Australia),

“40% of current jobs as they are structured at the moment are likely to disappear in the next 10 years.”

What you may also find surprising is that we are currently unprepared as a country for the challenges that this future presents. Which I believe is predominantly driven by lack of awareness of the challenge and knowledge on how to leverage our education and skill building to de-risk the current and future workforce.

So what can you do to future proof yourself as a professional and mitigate the impacts these changes will impose on work as we know it? Whilst I don’t profess to have all the answers I can share what I am starting to do to try and make myself relevant as a middle aged worker moving into a new world of working.

Choose Your Attitude// We need to become more open to learning and engaging on a deeper level with technology and automation. Saying I’m not a techy person, because I didn’t grow up with it, is no longer an excuse to be ignorant to the evolution. Ignoring this space is a high risk option as tech skills will form part of a base expected skillset for the future. As middle age professionals without these skills we are at risk, when you have nine year olds who are teaching themselves to code using YouTube and developing problem solving apps. We have to step up and take a positive attitude to start learning new and unfamiliar skills.

Get Your Tech On // General Assembly is a pioneer in education and career transformation, specializing in today’s most in-demand skills. I have been collaborating with these guys for a year now on events and I love the quality and diversity of workshops and courses that they provide that are future skill focused. I am currently looking at undertaking further learning in the areas of either User Experience (UX) or coding to up skill myself. In the words of Ben Liquete of CoderDojo “I believe that coding is going to be the next layer of literacy”.   If this is the case then it’s a skill we should be developing now.

Find Where Its At // There are so many free or very cheap events run by the tech driven co-working spaces like Inspire9 and York Butter Factory in Melbourne (and General Assembly). Get out there and immerse yourself in what’s going on by surrounding yourself with those in the know. The more of us who understand what’s happening, the more of us who can work together towards creating careers that are viable for the future.

Make A Plan // There has never been a better time to consider what success looks like for you in the context of your career over the next 5 to 10 years. Ponder this question, write it down, look at your current state in comparison and then identify your biggest gaps & opportunities. Use this information to make a simple plan by writing down 3 actions you can take over the next 90 days to move you closer to where you want to be and be sure to include one action that is related to building technological skill or awareness.

If you are interested in learning more about perspectives on the future of work I encourage you to take a look at the following resources.

Four Corners – Future Proof
The Future of Professions – Richard Susskind & Daniel Susskind