Study, find a job, and your future is secure, or so our parents like to tell us, right?
Here’s the thing, though, we millennials (okay, all of us, actually) are living in a time of great and rapid change. Each and every day, it seems like someone comes up with an easier, faster, and more efficient way of doing things. Advances in technology have, for better or for worse, disrupted industries and companies we once thought of as unshakable.
I mean, come on, when was the last time you rented a movie at Blockbuster, voluntarily hailed a cab without using a ride-sharing app, or sent money to your relative in the Philippines by giving an envelope to an acquaintance and hoping they don’t run off with it? (If you do the latter and are looking for a better way to send money, we’ve got your back. *wink*wink*nudge*nudge*)
So, what does this mean for us ordinary people who aren’t the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg? For starters, that mid-level office job we all thought was a safe, practical option might no longer be such after all, especially after the following trends have done a number on the ever-evolving workplace:
1. Skill Gaps.
I’m not sure about the exact figures, but we Filipinos always hear about how difficult it is to find a job these days, right? And yet, a quick search on any online employment site will reveal thousands, if not millions of unfilled jobs. Heck, I’ve been advertising for an external admin for my day job for nearly a month now, and after countless applications, a few interviews, and several no-shows (!!!!!), I still haven’t hired anyone.
Why is there a disconnect?
Two words: skill gap. Simply put, it’s what happens when a populace’s skills don’t match the ones required for in-demand jobs. For instance, the talent base in, say, Laguna or Cavite, might be manufacturing-rich (i.e., lots of engineers, assembly-line workers, etc.), but if one of the companies in that area suddenly integrated more and more software into their products, there would be a gap for software engineers.
In a nutshell, having only one set of skills, even if you’re the best at such, probably isn’t the best strategy for continuous employment in the future workplace.
2. The Rise of Remote Work.
We’ve talked ad nauseum about telecommuting and why it’s here to stay, so I won’t dwell so much on that here. Instead, let’s discuss what a typical employee in the future will look like thanks to this rising trend.
In the past, the model employee was one who steadily rose through the ranks in one company that s/he stayed loyal too for much of his or her career. In the not-so-distant future, the employee of the month, so to speak, will be quite the opposite. As the demand for more autonomy, better work-life balance, and dynamic, non-repetitive work increases, more and more independent freelancers working for several companies at once will replace the full-time, traditional employee.
Here’s hoping Philippine internet speeds eventually catch up with the rest of the world, though.
3. Increasing Automation.
Are you aware that Shake Shack is opening its first cashless, kiosk-only branch in New York this month? Basically, it’ll have automated terminals receiving orders and payments in place of actual human employees doing the same thing.
The famous burger chain isn’t the first to use automation to reduce workforce costs, and at the rate technology is going, you can bet that they won’t be the last.
Think about it. People are the most unpredictable part of any business. Numbers don’t lie, machinery and equipment will run properly without fail as long as they’re maintained properly, but you can treat an employee like your most beloved child and there’s still no guarantee that they’ll reciprocate. Automated machines, on the other hand, have higher accuracy for menial tasks because they don’t get sick and they usually don’t have boyfriends/girlfriends/wives/husbands that argue with them to mess up their mood for the day.
So, unless you can do something that a machine never could, there’s no telling when or how your boss might replace you with one eventually. And believe you me, the list of things we humans can do better than our artificial intelligence counterparts is getting shorter by the day.
With the world as we know it changing so drastically before our eyes, one thing we can no longer afford to do is be complacent. Even a college degree from the most prestigious university in the world will be for nothing if we don’t have the ability to keep learning new skills. Charles Darwin’s studies on evolution did, after all, determine that the species that survived weren’t the strongest or the smartest, but the ones that adapted to change the best.