Are you ready for the new world of work? - HR Future helps people prepare for the Future of Work and is South Africa's leading print, digital and online Human Resources magazine.

Are you ready for the new world of work?

To add to the woes of our country beset with high levels of unemployment, predictions are that millions of jobs will be lost around the world  as a result of the rapid changes taking place in the workplace.

Most of these jobs due for extinction, it is claimed, will be white collar office and administrative jobs.

But all is not lost. While millions of jobs will be consigned to history books, millions more new jobs will be created. Think about all the new jobs that have come into existence over the past 15 to 20 years, jobs that simply never existed before. Well, multiply that by 100 or 1 000 because the number of jobs that previously never existed is going to exponentially increase.

According to a report by the World Economic Forum, some job categories are expected to grow. These include data analysts, computer and mathematics related jobs, architecture and engineering, specialised sales positions, senior managers to lead companies through transformation, product designers, HR and OD specialists to help reskill workers, and experts in regulatory matters for technology and government relations.

Think back to the so-called new jobs that have come into existence during your working career. If you told someone in the 1950s that you “used a computer for your work”, they wouldn’t have the faintest idea of what you did. In fact, as recently as 15 years ago, when I moved into my current home, the previous owner, the retiring Marketing Director of one of the country’s major banks, was telling me about what his son-in-law did for a living. He said, “He’s in computers. I haven’t got a clue what he does, but he seems to be doing very well.”

Remember those 70s TV programmes set in offices where the obligatory “new technology” PC was politely but very impractically placed on a table top behind the person sitting at a desk? During those days, they were put there for show. Now those same PCs sit firmly on the desk in front of the person. Of course, even this has become dated as people use laptops, tablets and smart phones wherever they are to do their work!

Some new jobs that we will see appearing in the future include waste data handlers, elderly wellbeing consultants, virtual reality designers, remote vehicle operators and remote healthcare specialists, to name a few.

New trends will also change the way some jobs are performed. Currently, airline pilots are a dedicated bunch. They sacrifice their comfort in the interests of flying others to destinations all around the world. They have to cope with long periods away from home and differing time zones. With driverless (and pilotless) vehicles due to make their appearance on our roads and runways, we may well see pilots becoming desk jockeys as they sit at a desk in an office, overseeing the flight of “their plane” from a remote terminal. Who knows, it might even progress so far that they start to work from home and fly you to your destination from their home office!

Speaking of which, we’re going to see fewer and fewer people actually going to work – where they get in a car, train or taxi and physically travel to a big office block in order to perform their work. Companies will have fewer people on their permanent payroll as the gig economy becomes a fact of life – people will source work online, perform a required function and get paid online for their skill and effort. The good news is that, over time, as this trend takes root, this will greatly alleviate traffic congestion as fewer people travel to a place of work.

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and a professional speaker. He assists business leaders to lead their people into the new world of work.

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