What will the world of work look like in ten years’ time? Future gazing can be both fun and also extremely tricky, but sometimes the easiest place to start is to look back to the past. It’s fair to say the world, and the job market in particular, has changed a lot in the last few decades. According to the latest figures From the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the unemployment rate is also at its lowest since 1975. Jobs today have changed and shifted focus since the mid-70s, when the Bay City Rollers dominated the charts. Industries such as coal mining have declined and others, like the financial sector, have grown. Moreover, workplaces have been revolutionised through technology and the dawn of the internet era. Today the pace of change, comparatively, seems ever faster and it is the careers that adapt and ride the wave of change that will shape the future.
Skills to pay the bills
The ONS research also indicates that vacancies are approaching a record high, suggesting businesses have skills shortages that they’re looking to fill. In today’s modern workplace, and certainly in tomorrow’s world of work, having the top skills will be a key differentiator for those applying and interviewing for roles. The rise in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers, and the focus towards tech roles such as artificial intelligence (AI) and cyber security, also shows that key skills are required as an entry point into certain career paths.
In order to plug the skills gap individuals, and the wider workforce, will need to adopt an iterative approach to learning and up-skilling. A qualification, such as a degree, might not be enough by itself to put you ahead of other candidates and give you the competitive edge. Instead, it is those who build their skills through regular career reviews, relevant placements, work experience or extra-curricular courses that will have the advantage.
Flexibility is the future
The way we work is changing too. Life isn’t always 9-5 and nor, nowadays, are our jobs. Many industries and companies are increasingly offering flexible and remote working practices, giving each employee the freedom and opportunity to work in the way that suits them best.
When it comes to who we work for, more and more people are breaking out on their own and making themselves the boss; becoming entrepreneurs, consultants or heading up small businesses. This is echoed by the increase in people changing career direction in later life. A job for life is simply no longer the norm as people are now having more careers in their lifetimes. People are responding to this change in a flexible way by using the transferable skills developed in one role to help them either identify their desired next job or to inform their future career change. It’s a case of playing to your strengths and people are becoming more aware of the importance of developing their skill set, or even learning a new one.
Follow your path
The expectations we have about work, and the jobs we undertake, are a world away from those we had in the 1970s. Thankfully, these days we have access to online careers information and advice services at our fingertips – helping us in our chosen career paths and ensuring we learn all the necessary skills to fulfil our true potential.
It can be daunting to think about where we will be in our careers in ten years’ time, or even what jobs might look like in the future. But we can take the steps now, through upskilling via a training course or seeking expert careers advice, to set us out on the track best matched to our skills and passions. When it comes to your career the most important thing is that you’re following the path that’s right for you.
Tom Laws – Careers Adviser, National Careers Service (https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-laws-0b6850173)
Tom began working as an adviser for the National Careers Service in 2012, where he completed his Level 3 NVQ in Advice and Guidance, and has been working as a careers and youth adviser since 2010.
He graduated from York St John University in 2008 and is currently undertaking a Digital Marketing apprenticeship.
Previously he has worked in a range of different careers, from sound design on computer games, installing flooring for a hotel chain and coaching sport in schools.