While we may be happy with the status quo, the world around us is evolving at an unprecedented rate. The World Economic Forum (WEF) states that we are currently in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and that 65% of school age children will work in occupations that currently do not exist.
For those of us who are currently in the workforce, organisational transformation is a current or impending reality which will continue as organisations respond to the rate of change and disruption in our industry ecosystems and value chains. Automation and other technological innovations such as artificial intelligence and robotics will continue to change the way we work both now and in the future. While change may feel uncomfortable, it is inevitable in our professional lives.
Adopting a Utopian Perspective to Change
These near to far future realities in work have the potential to be incredibly fulfilling as machines take over more menial tasks. Our children and future generations, will be the beneficiaries of this new era of professions where ‘soft skills’ are valued above all else, making human work more creative, fulfilling and less labour intensive.
Those currently in jobs that are affected by current or impending disruption, avoiding ‘technopanic’ can be challenging. For those of us caught between the devalued jobs and the valuable ‘new’ professions, the ability to adjust is even more critical.
We need to identify and move into these professions now, in order to ride the wave into the future.
The WEF Future of Jobs report states that some of the most valuable human skills include workforce management, communication, decision making, administration, technical tasks and complexity. In the future, human roles will involve such skill sets as systems thinking, innovation, creativity, design and programming, emotional intelligence, reasoning, ideation and problem solving.
In the age of change adoption, individuals and workforces have the opportunity to adopt a ‘growth mindset’ in order to experience change in a more positive and adaptive way. The best approach is to embrace change wholeheartedly to reduce the anxiety of ‘change resistance’ which inevitably will hold us back from progress. Curiosity and wonder are attitudes that we can engage with to help us encounter these changes, in order to help us move into this new world with potential delight, and in addition to these qualities, adopting a learning mindset.
Start Planning Your Pathway
Research your options and identify opportunities for your learning journey. Learning is an investment of both personal time and money. Make sure you consider how much you wish to invest in your learning and how much time you feel is needed to allocate to your learning objectives. Ask yourself what do you wish to achieve as a result of this learning journey.
Your research is important as you need to consider the value of your choices and investment in your learning options. Will you self learn via reading and undertaking your own activities to embed your knowledge? Or do you wish to earn a certification? Now is the time to think big. Where do you want to go next? What does your creative future look like?
You may not have anything bigger than a six month plan. That’s ok, because it may take some time to acquire the skills you need that match your passions. Think about what you’ve done before. What have you enjoyed or not enjoyed? What are you passionate about and what are your future goals? Does your learning plan complement your objectives? What outcomes are you trying to achieve?
Possible Learning Pathways
- If you are lucky enough to work with an employer that values learning and development, proactively research your options and leverage your opportunities, particularly if you can demonstrate the value you can offer your organisation in your professional career development.
- If you wish to move away from the industry you are in, consider the outcomes you desire and research opportunities in that industry to develop your learnings into case studies of experience. Knowing via your research and connections that there is value in your learning journey is a great motivator to start.
- Passion may be enough for some and learning may alternatively enrich your life generally by complementing your current profession and giving you the variety you require to be satisfied in your current role, or commencing that side hustle or new gig.
Other Learning Journey Tips
- Make sure to check in on trends in your desired industry every 12 months. Our professions are changing rapidly and it is important to stay up to date to ensure your investment of money and time is justified.
- Life happens on the way to our destination. Whether it’s a new family member, an event, health or alternative opportunities to consider, keep your mind open and make sure your learning options are flexible and work for you.
- Things might happen when you reach the destination. Perhaps the experience isn’t what you expect or desire, or so surprising that ultimately you learn from the experience and it refreshes or changes your perspective completely. These experiences are still valuable.
- Perhaps the degree you entered isn’t as valuable to industry after all, or the courses aren’t as relevant. If you decide to move away from a certification, you should investigate your options on flexibility, credit, transfers, the works! See if there is a minimum accreditation you can obtain, so your work is still recognised, or look at a ‘try before you buy’ option first, if you aren’t 100% sure your investment is right for you.
- The learning opportunities you undertake now may stimulate another layer of learning further down the track, so the destination and outcome of your learning journey is redefined and continuous.
The best thing about learning is that understanding new ideas or information not only enriches ourselves but also our society. By embracing learning mindsets, collaborative cultures, agility, diversity and inclusion, we will continue to be ahead of the technology revolution, simply because we have the mental attitudes to engage with change. Instead of learning for memory, our biggest opportunity is learning how to learn, in order to enrich ourselves, future generations and children and engage with the future of work.
About the author: Catherine Hills is an innovation expert, team and practice coach from Melbourne leading teams in design and research within and outside the technology sector. Catherine is passionate about learning, creativity, education and people. Catherine is also one of our Leading Ladies! Check out her interview here.