Finding a job or a career path is not easy, and in recent times it is harder than ever for young people who have already lost their most exciting youth years to the pandemic. For this reason, it can be scary for them to look into the future and try to find their place in a world that goes through changes at a speed rate that we have never seen before. So what will the future bring for young people? What can they expect? Such predictions are always difficult to make but already today we can see some trends that will influence the world of work of tomorrow.
The first thing that comes to your mind is probably the term “digitalisation”, and you are absolutely right with this one. The future of work is all about technology and how it affects the way we work. While in 2015 a lot of companies “still operated like they are in 1975”, in 2021 the process of digitalisation has accelerated rapidly and it will continue. Technology such as big data and cloud computing enables us to organise everything easier than ever, and with everyone having their digital devices at hand everywhere and at every time, the typical 9 to 5 job has and will lose its significance. Instead, there will be a wide variety of flexible working functions, non-employment work arrangements and digitally-enabled independent work. Furthermore, it will be easier to change jobs more frequently, and people will be temporarily employed more often.
But these are not the only changes caused by digitalisation.
When we think of the future of work, we can not bypass the impact of automation. Half of the tasks that people do have the potential to be automated, for example, through robotics and artificial intelligence. That requires people to adapt and change, which won’t be easy regarding the rising unemployment and underemployment, as well as the falling incomes for middle-income households and uneducated people. But please don’t lose hope when hearing those things, as everything, digitalisation and automation have also a bright side, e.g. it will create new job opportunities for less-skilled workers through “machines embed intelligence which requires little training”, and the flexibility and mobility allows a lot of workers to coordinate their balance between work and free time better.
Moreover, there are many voices saying that the automation anxiety is unfounded since it is not the first time people are worried about technology taking away their jobs (see industrialisation when people thought machines would replace them). While their concerns were correct, many jobs were replaced by machines; they could barely imagine the new jobs created by this. And that is exactly the case today. No one knows what the future will bring and what skills will be required, but that does not mean we should shy away from making predictions and preparing. Humanity was always great at creating new jobs and what we definitely know is that the importance of flexibility will rapidly rise, and stability is something we should learn to turn away from. There is also no need to worry if you are not a technology expert. In a world where more and more tasks are being replaced by robots or artificial intelligence, emotional intelligence is strongly needed. As a manager, it will be increasingly important to have human skills like empathy, listening, communication or the ability to prioritise when dealing with all your employees working under high-stress levels. In addition to that, the rising inequality and a lot of other social problems won’t be solved by robots or other forms of technology, so there is still a lot of work to do.
As you can see, the world of work, which is waiting for you, is constantly changing, but that does not have to mean something bad. For all the girls and boys graduating from school next year, there are endless opportunities to spend their summer before they start choosing a career. One could, for example, take advantage of the possibility to study or work anywhere in the EU and take part in the Erasmus plus program, which helps young people to spend a period of time abroad, or you could make a meaningful contribution to society by joining the European Solidarity Corps. And don’t be too focused on finding the perfect way. Just start and take a first step!