Decoding the Future Workforce

Dec 26, 2018

The world is at the brink of evolving workforce capabilities, led by innovations like automation, artificial intelligence and the fluid workforce. How will the future workforce cope with these outcomes in a smaller and flatter corporate world?

Organizations across the world are increasingly focusing on outcomes and Key Performance Indicators as more workers choose professional freedom as part of the Gig economy. With nearly 52% of the American workforce projected to be gig economy workers by 2025, the implications are serious for the business leaders of tomorrow.

It’s often said that in business the preparation for tomorrow starts with the strategies of today. Another axiom that’s equally pertinent is that one cannot manage what one cannot measure. So, for corporate strategists and business leaders, the what’s and how’s will define their success in the times to come.

THE HUMAN MACHINE ALLIANCE

For the global workforce, 2018 was defined by the increasing reliance on intelligent automation and artificial intelligence implementation initiatives by major players in almost all sectors, and in most regions of the world. Healthcare to banking, and automotive to supply chain management, companies invested heavily in Artificial Intelligence and automation. Improved capabilities in delivery, ingenuity in job roles and enhanced capabilities in designing and augmenting AI models for business functions will pave the way for a synergistic, allied workforce of humans and machines. According to a PwC report, 70% of workers said they would consider treatments to enhance their brain and body if this provided enhanced employment prospects in the future. This is a fairly reasonable arrangement, considering that 38% of jobs in the US, 35% in Germany, 30% in the UK and 21% in Japan risk being completely automated. Companies that lead this human-machine collaboration estimated to witness a 38% revenue boost. The global CEO outlook going into 2025 is also positive on this trend with 74% saying that they will invest heavily in AI capabilities, but a whopping 97% of them stated that they look at enterprise AI capabilities to augment their human workforce.

THE SHARING ECONOMY

53 million workers in America were freelancers 2 years ago. If that number astonished you, consider the projection that 43% by 2020 and 49% by 2023, will be workers in the Gig Economy. What does this mean? The fragmentation of the very nature of employment will mean skills, and not jobs, will be the highest priority for employers and workers. In a similar vein, 60% of business leaders think that “few people will have stable, long-term employment in the future”.

Adaptability will form the most crucial aspect of remaining employed in the future. Respondents in surveys definitely seem to have understood the gravity of the situation. 86% surveyed stated adaptability as their core objective in their careers going forward. A single, technical skill for a single job is likely to become obsolete in just over a decade from now, and freelancing on multiple platforms will quite literally define mainstream employment in the workforce of the future, even as the sharing economy is estimated to witness a CAGR of 139.4% YoY in emerging economies.

"60% of business leaders think that few people will have stable, long-term employment in the future”.

RESKILLING AND UPSKILLING

The key driver of adaptability, cited above as the biggest factor for employees to develop and transform their careers in the workforce of the future, implies skill acquisition and enhancement. This is what employers, too, will look for. Finding, sourcing and attracting talent will remain critical for an organization to thrive, and those in the talent pool for a particular skillset will be expected to “multi-skill”, rather than merely “up-skill” in the workplace of the future.

Workers seem to realize this trend already; 74% say they are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain in a different skill to remain employable in the future. The same 74% also believe that the responsibility lies with them to enhance their skillsets and acquire new ones. Employers will map skills to reconfigure new roles, instead of the other way round. In fact, 46% of organizational leadership already believe the traditional job description formats will be obsolete in the workforce of the future.

The business case for upskilling is ubiquitous and unmistakable, as agility will come to be the biggest single differentiator between organizations that create a sustainable growth path, and those that fall by the wayside. Specialized certified skillsets in new-age and niche domains like data science and analytics, strategic talent management, blockchain technology and others will be the defining factors for employment in the future workforce.

Sources: PwC, Gartner, Accenture

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