Wednesday, August 14, 2013

One View of Jobs in 2020

It has been said (by some pundit somewhere) that a skill learned today will be obsolete in 3 years. So what do you think….should we all stop learning. Probably not.

One of the more radical views of how jobs will change came from John Seely Brown (a pretty smart guy that ran Xerox research in the 90’s). He suggested the corporation of the future will be made up of one employee and a dog. The employee is there to monitor the machines, and the dog is there to make sure he doesn't touch anything.

We may never go quite that far, but the basic idea is right on. Work in the next decade is going to change radically. The new employment economy is going to be even more radically affected by workplace technology than it was in the last decade (think 3D printers are cool now…). There will be a major shift in worker attitudes about the concept of "employment and career". And location will be replaced by “statelessness:” breaking the link between where you work and where you live.

All this adds up to a very different kind of workplace in the next ten years. Will today’s computer programmer be set aside like an old typewriter?

In the county I live in the Workforce Center commissioned a study last year that said (among other things) that to attract and retain jobs in our county we would have to:
  • Dramatically increase the number of workers in physical science, architecture, engineering, arts (yes – arts), media and math.
  • Develop a comprehensive infrastructure (clusters) to support talent and talent development
  • Create a culture of collaboration and cooperation (wonder if today's traditional CEO will get that concept)
  • And strengthen our schools so that they produce better thinkers. Especially ones with a good foundation in math

And, foremost in all of this is that we will have to be a generation of continuous learners.

How will HR respond to that? How will recruiters used to skills based hiring understand how to assess people who may know a little JAVA today, but will need a new (yet to be invented) skill one year from now?

Wanted: Smart person who really knows their stuff and can learn more stuff.

Maybe those kids with liberal arts degrees weren't so wrong. (Especially if they a know a little math as well!)