The Future of the Labour Market – Fortune Telling or Better Get Ready For Different Scenarios?

Last week I had the pleasure of delivering a speech on behalf of all the parents at my daughter’s middle school graduation ceremony.  

I am sure that at one point or another during their education the young people were pondering what their future will look like. A huge part of our life takes place after school, which we do not get taught in the classroom. The reason for this is that we cannot foresee the future 100%, but at least we can get ourselves prepared for the possible scenarios it may bring. This is certainly beneficial both for youngsters and business enterprises.

An attempt to predict the future is to use the STEEPLE analysis and take into consideration the 1). Sociological, 2). Technological, 3). Economic, 4). Environmental, 5). Political, Legal and Ethical factors.

1). Every decade for the last 160 years the human life expectancy has been extending by about 2.5 years. The forecasts say that by 2050 every third European inhabitant will be over 60 years old (it’s now 24%). The predicted life expectancy of children born after year 2007 is on average 104 years. All this indicates that the so-far known model of “education – work – retirement” may simply break down. One of the outcomes will be “Working Forever”, which assumes people working till they are 80 or 90 years old, lifelong learning and multiple requalifying and changing professions. The dominant social groups on the labour market after 2025 will be Generations Y and Z.    

2). As pointed out in Tivix Chairman Bret Waters’ blog post – the 4th industrial revolution is coming, where cyber-physical systems will rule. Automation, AI, robots, autonomous cars, bioelectronic implants, AR, VR, machine learning and blockchain, just to name a few, will soon be part of our daily lives. This will lead to the disappearance of over half of the existing jobs within the nearest 20 years. The scenario based on those changes is “The Useless Class” which assumes human work becoming a luxury, available only to few, with predicted 40% unemployment (occasional work jobs will be thriving). But, don’t worry, the state will provide us with the universal basic income and working hours will be shortened. The competencies of tomorrow will be digital competencies: knowledge of coding, analysis and modelling of metadata, remote work and work in dispersed teams, communication in virtual space and a critical approach to fake news. But what will be really important are the “human” competencies, such as critical thinking, creativity, social intelligence, self-management, novel and adaptive thinking, design mindset, decision-making, knowledge and skill-sharing, active listening and project management.

3). Some of the main change factors will be the gig economy and digital lifestyle (digital nomads). For the Y and Z Generation working from home and/or working as a freelancer is something natural and adds up to their job attractiveness. Flexible working hours are extremely important for millennials. The arising scenario here is “People per Hour”, similar to the Hollywood model. In this light, recruitment, communication, building teams and trust as well as employee evaluation will be quite challenging for business organisations.

4). Climate change, global warming, resource depletion and atmospheric disturbances with a decarbonised economy and technological growth may lead to the “There Are No Jobs on a Dead Planet” scenario. The challenges will be brought about by lower productivity and high unemployment resulting from decarbonisation and a low-emission economy. Also business trips and long working hours (the longer work, the bigger consumption and ecological footprint) will need to be modified. Companies will have to focus on sustainable functioning and restricted energy use.

5). Transparency will be a critical factor, too, and it will create another possible future scenario, namely “Through the Glass Door”. Businesses will have to learn how to function in an environment where everything is made public, including salary data. But there is also a good side to it – when the tech startup Buffer made its salaries public in late 2013, job applications within a 30-day period increased over the previous 30 days by roughly 229%!

All these possible future scenarios will have a tremendous impact on the work style, employment and recruitment ways and management models. Every business will sooner or later face these challenges. But, no matter what will happen, the most precious and priceless factor will always be human relations, built on trust, respect, collaboration and knowledge sharing. Such true relations shape outstanding teams and bring good business results.

With such a great team like in Tivix we are ready for the future!