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Whirling Chief

From Us

Nº 131

Professions of the Future

By Fateme Banishoeib

I recently attended TEDx Lugano as a speaker. The theme of the event was very dear to me: Professions of the Future. It was very uplifting and inspiring to join 10 other speakers to spread very worthwhile ideas, and engage in a dialogue with such an engaged audience. Whirling Chief founder Sesil Pir has already written a very detailed update on the topics discussed at TEDx Lugano, which you can find here. I have also written a more specific blog post on my talk…including some poetry as a gift for you!

What I would like to discuss here are some of the questions that emerged during the several dialogues before and after the event. We will be sharing videos of the talks as soon as they are available (you can check as well on the TEDxLugano page) – hopefully this will allow you to reflect on the professions of the future on your own.

Understanding the pace of change and the type of changes we will be facing can help governments, leaders, each one of us, to move forward. We all debate about the 4th industrial revolution and whether in the future we will have jobs. This 4th revolution, which is said to not have started just yet, is nonetheless reshaping all of our careers. It is estimated that 65% of children entering primary school today will fill roles that currently do not exist, due to the advancement of automation, digital platforms, and other innovations changing the fundamental nature of work.

The development of automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence will substitute the way we do certain jobs, and will hopefully relieve humans from working in harsh conditions. At the same time, we need to pay closer attention to what images we put out there on social media, for example on LinkedIn, to be identified and selected for a job in the future.

But the reality is that in the next 5 years, in the USA at least, independent workers will form 50% of the workforce. They will increasingly choose to offer their services on digital platforms, challenging conventional ideas about how and where work is undertaken.

We cannot deny that some jobs, as we now know them, are simply going away. What we do not know is which type of new jobs will emerge, and the real question to me remains: How do we equip ourselves and evolve in our journey as humankind? It is clear that the business structure as it currently exists must change. We need to innovate business so as to support all of humankind’s progress. This means we must look at old hierarchy models and make them less rigid (millennials won’t feel comfortable working under rigid hierarchies), make jobs more dynamic, and reconsider income inequality not only from the perspective of gender. As robots take over jobs, how do we ensure we have a fair redistribution of wealth? Is basic income the future?

Prior to the event I was interviewed by the Swiss national radio RS1 “Mille Voci” and someone from the public asked a fair question on ethics and morals in the era of automation. How will government create policies to embed ethics in the design of robots?

What I am perceiving is that we finally have the opportunity to humanize business. It almost seems a paradox while talking about virtual reality, AI, and robotics. The choice is totally up to us – take it or leave it. The essence of the shift is a simple but big idea: the idea of being in a job – just “doing” without “being” – is starting to go away. It must. We do not want, nor can we, compete with robots on the level of doing. Let me break down (after a day long event at TEDxLugano) the professions of the future into three simple buckets, which regardless of the field represent the main areas of impact for the future of work:

  1. Personal impact:leading with “why.” Asking ourselves why we work, and becoming very clear on how work fits into our life, will differentiate us from a robot. It is important we all make a personal decision on how we stay current in our skills and capabilities, and how work gives us meaning and purpose.
  2. Organizational impact:creating a business model that serves all humankind. A model that allows all of us, robots and humans, to perform at the best of our capabilities while allowing continuous development.
  3. Societal impact: creating a new education system to support the new generations to enter the workplace, and prepare the current workforce to transition into the jobs of the future.

I believe it came across strongly from several of the speakers at TEDx Lugano that how we prepare for such an uncertain, complex, and ambiguous future is going to be critical. A first step we can take is acknowledging the “death of a single skill set.” We need to understand that “business as usual” is no longer enough and what has made us employable today will not be enough tomorrow.

There are three key things we all need to guarantee and create in order for everyone to have a better future:

  • Definitively guarantee more freedom as to how and where we work, and allow employees to work in the way that is most conducive to their productivity and success. And also create for ourselves the flexibility and the freedom of different careers (maybe in very diverse fields) in parallel.
  • We need to move from direct guidance and supervision, which seems more appropriate for robots and computers, to considering our employees entrepreneurs who need to be self-motivated in order to find career success.
  • Career paths and education must become customised rather than standardized to allow more diversity and innovation capacity.

I came to a simple conclusion: The future of work is already here. So how are you and your organization getting ready for it and everything it entails?



  • 25 September 2017

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