By Kevin S. Parikh
This article was originally published in Forbes.
The workforce of the future has been debated for years but has never been such a hot topic as today, with the Covid-19 pandemic. It is no longer news that the face of the world and the way we do business has irrevocably changed. Instead of the slow and steady climb toward a borderless, digital society, global economies suddenly found themselves launched onto a new trajectory, forced to adapt to survive. We are watching the workplace and workforce of the future take shape, with changing roles, relationships and demands. There has been a rapid shift toward remote work, innovation and automation, enabled by the ubiquity of technology and the digital economy.
What will the future look like, and what does it mean for the workforce and youth of today?
The workforce of the future will be distributed and transboundary
Advancements in digital and unified communications, allowing for real-time audio and visual connection, have made it easier than ever to work remotely and efficiently from anywhere in the world without compromising the quality of interactions. In fact, at the advent of the pandemic, many white-collar companies around the world were able to make the work-from-home shift almost instantaneously.
According to a survey of roughly 1,200 chief information officers across different industries around the world conducted by Enterprise Technology Research (ETR), 72% of the workforce is remote, and it is expected that the share of the workforce permanently working from home will double to 34.4% in 2021, from 16.4% before the pandemic.
Now, with little real need for a physical office, hiring choices no longer need to be bound by location — employers can hire wherever they find talent and wherever it is cost-effective. The new ubiquity of the workforce significantly levels the playing field for job candidates around the world while making it easier for companies to build a more collaborative, diverse, and innovative environment by fortifying their teams with workers of different backgrounds, skill sets and experiences.
As the adoption of digitalization accelerates, the workforce of the future will be harmonized with technology
This means that where possible, automation will replace many human tasks. At the same time, new roles and career paths will be created for humans to work alongside machines and provide support in new ways. The human contribution to productivity will change shape. As technology rapidly changes, this will be an ongoing process, and as such, the workforce of the future will need continuous upskilling and reskilling along a technology-oriented trajectory.
With the acceleration of the digital economy, the World Economic Forum estimates that by 2025, 50% of workers will need reskilling because automation will displace 85 million jobs worldwide, while 97 million new roles will emerge adapted to this dynamic. The new roles of the future are expected to have a heavy emphasis on data analytics, digital experience and process automation.
A key change in the job market will be a shift from technical skills to creative ones
As repetitive jobs become automated, technical skills will not remain marketable. On the other hand, the world will be looking to tap into more creative energies — workers who can innovate and find new solutions. The World Economic Forum identifies the following top five skills for the workforce of 2025:
- Analytical thinking and innovation
- Active learning and learning strategies
- Complex problem-solving
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Creativity, originality and initiative
It is clear that in the world of tomorrow, this shift toward innovation will be key to the survival of all.
The future of work creates an opportunity for the youth of today, but we need to ensure that no one is left behind
The International Labour Organization estimates that 64 million young people worldwide are currently unemployed and millions more engaged in dangerous or informal work. According to findings from the World Bank, less than half of the one billion young people globally will find existing jobs over the next decade. This gap stems from the lack of access to opportunities, education and training, and it is a gap that impact sourcing can fill.
Impact sourcing allows companies to operate across regions where disadvantaged youth live and improve their earning potential by providing them with training, career development and job placement in digitally focused areas of work. Impact sourcing has been shown to have a significant income benefit for workers, which spills over into positive impacts on their families and communities. It plays a vital role in removing the barrier of socioeconomic status for the workers of tomorrow while building the skill sets that the world will need.
The Covid-19 pandemic launched us into the future much faster than we expected. While the uncertainty is scary, we must look at it as an opportunity rather than a challenge. It’s an opportunity to innovate, evolve and bring more people with us into the new age, where there is a more level playing field for us all to move forward. The digital economy is unlocking new opportunities to drive the workforce of the future and create a workplace for us all.