The job market is constantly changing. In fact, 65 percent of the children entering primary school now will ultimately work in a job that doesn’t exist today, according to one popular estimate reported by the World Economic Forum. The question becomes, how do we prepare for a future labor market that’s beyond the boundaries of our current reality?
KNOW THAT THIS ISN’T ENTIRELY NEW
The labor market has undergone dramatic changes in the U.S. since the Industrial Revolution. Many new jobs were created during this time due to advances in automation. But, many jobs were lost, too. The trend has continued in much the same way ever since. It’s changed the way we work and the kinds of jobs that are available.
Here’s an example: Historically, farming was a common profession. In 1790, 90 percent of the U.S. labor force worked in agriculture. If you’d told these folks that by 2008 less than 2 percent of the U.S. workforce would be employed in agriculture, they probably would have been very concerned. How could they have predicted that jobs like Search Engine Optimization Analyst and Software Engineer would arrive on the scene?
For generations, Americans have had to adjust to a changing labor market — and they’ve done just that. This is because, in the end, technology has advanced the economy and that has kept the labor market moving in the right direction. One-hundred and forty years of data show that, overall, technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed.
IT’S STILL IMPORTANT TO PREPARE
A large percentage of tomorrow’s jobs don’t exist today. So, how can we prepare for them? Well, there is still a lot that we can do to help us be ready for whatever the labor market holds for us in the future.
- Expect the unexpected – You won’t do yourself any favors ignoring the facts. The labor market is going to shift and change in the years ahead. Expecting these changes, even without knowing exactly how they’ll shake out, should help you feel a little more prepared.
- Pay attention to how technology impacts specific industries – Although we don’t know exactly what will happen down the road, we can anticipate which industries might be the most impacted. This is important information to have when making career decisions.
- Get an education – One of the best ways anyone can prepare for their professional future is to focus on getting an education. College grads earn more money and have lower rates of unemployment.
- Develop human skills – There are many ways in which the robots will never be able to compete with us. Focus on cultivating uniquely human soft skills like communication, creativity and compassion to stay competitive.
- Pursue your passions – We might not know exactly how the labor market will shift in the years ahead, but that doesn’t mean we can’t point ourselves in the right direction. Follow your interests and pursue your passions. You don’t have to know exactly how you’ll utilize your tech degree, for example, for it to be a benefit to you in the future. You’ll set yourself up for success by letting your interests and abilities guide your education and career choices. This preparation, and your passion, should help you be ready for whatever the future might hold.