Navigating the Future of Work: Can We Point Businesses, Workers, and Social Institutions in the Same Direction?

By John Hagel, Jeff Schwartz, and Josh Bersin – Pubished in 2018 in “Investing in America’s Workforce: Improving Outcomes for Workers & Employers”Subscribe to the WFMonitor eNewsletter

This very interesting chapter in the book “Investing in America’s Workforce,” was written by three authors who are high-level professionals from Deloitte. They outline three forces: technology, demographics and market changes, that are altering the nature of the future of work. Further, they provide a description of related repercussions that impact individuals, businesses, and public institutions. The entire chapter is about 16 pages in length.

Technology – Technological developments, such as AI, robotics, sensors, and data, are big drivers in the overall rapid evolution of work that brings the necessity for workers to continuously upgrade their skills around new job descriptions.

Demographics – People are living longer and prolonging their careers. Developing economies are also providing the world with a growing population of young workers. More women and previously sidelined, and more diverse populations from developed economies are entering the modern global workforce.

The Power of Pull – Referred to as “changing market forces,” digital technologies are enabling institutions and prospective workers greater access to globalized talent-network platforms. This dynamic is creating more creative work environments and smaller entrepreneurial enterprises. 

How Jobs are Being Redefined and Transformed
The common definitions of both blue-collar and white-collar jobs we grew accustomed to throughout the industrial age are being disrupted by robotics and AI. We are reinventing ourselves in ways that rely more on our creative human instincts and capabilities, focusing more on using our imaginations and emotional intelligences, for example, instead of doing routine tasks. In addition, there’s more diversity in today’s workforce, and an increase in hybrid jobs that combine technical, design, and project management skills are pushing a need to fast-track learning and upskilling. 

In addition, self-employment and the gig economy are both growing, along with companies outsourcing variable labor costs. This is driving individuals into more diverse freelance work experiences instead of pursuing single employer-based careers and full-time-only employment. 

The Impacts of All These Forces & Factors
Successful workers, employers, and educational institutions will be those who realize the vital importance of lifelong learning. Individuals will increasingly take ownership in the development of their careers and personal passions by being more cognizant and alerted to new learning opportunities. Employers will support their employees by increased investments in their learning and development. Educational institutions will continue to create new training and credentialing opportunities geared toward helping individuals upskill, reskill, and find new interests and jobs.