Are You Prepared for the Future of Work?

Today’s post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member Dennis Miller. Here he talks about what it takes to be prepared for the future of work.

The “Future of Work” is a topic written about often, and while no one can predict the future with certainty, there are some facts that can be used to paint a picture of what is likely to occur. 

For example, we know the current age range of “Baby Boomers” is 55 to 73. We know this generation of people will continue to leave the workforce at about 10,000 workers each day – just less than seven each minute. We can expect the overwhelming majority of this generation to be completely out of the workforce within the next 15 years, although a small percentage will downsize their work role and remain in the workforce much later in life.

What this means for workers younger than the Baby Boomer generation is that opportunities in mature organizations related to taking on more responsibility and/or promotions, (and the resulting higher wages) will present themselves much more rapidly than in the past. In fact, sectors such as higher education, nonprofits, and city and state government statistically have an older workforce when compared to many for-profit companies, and therefore we can expect worker departures and the related opportunity to occur at a rate most have never seen in the workplace in these sectors. 

We also know that technology has evolved very rapidly during the last couple of decades and is impacting our lives in nearly all areas – as consumers and workers. We expect this pace of evolution to continue to increase well into the future.

There is also much discussion about how technology, specifically AI, will impact knowledge-based workers. We have decades of evidence regarding how technology has impacted manufacturing workers and as a result, this area is not discussed nearly as often as the expected impact to knowledge-based workers. For knowledge-based workers, the general expectation for the near-term future is that some work will be transacted by using some form of AI while most of the work will continue to be done by humans. 

What has not changed in recent history – and is expected to only increase in demand – is the need for soft skills in the workplace. Effective communication skills (written and verbal) are needed more than ever. Effective communications skills show up on nearly every list of research related to “soft skills needed for the workplace”, along with being a team player, flexibility, problem solving, creative thinking, and the ability to accept feedback. Of course, it is still essential to have the “hard skills” to be successful as well.

For those workers who have entered the workforce at any time during the last 3 decades – or who plan to enter the workforce in the immediate future, the question you need to ask yourself is “am I prepared” to seize the opportunities that continue to appear in the workplace? 

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