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Careers are changing and will continue to change in the future.1 While there is a lot of uncertainty about what that future will look like, here are some practical suggestions to help you prepare:
1. Spend more time daydreaming
Yes, you read that correctly. Daydreaming could be good for your career prospects. That's the message from futurist Chris Riddell:
"In future, I think there will be more opportunities for people who can think of far-fetched ideas and what possibilities might be," says Riddell. "Technology such as virtual reality and augmented reality is breaking down the barrier between what is real and what is not. In the next few years, we may not be able to tell the difference between a virtual and a physical experience."
Riddell says daydreamers could be ideally suited to roles such as experience architects and experience designers. "These are jobs that we would never have believed could exist, just a few years ago," he says.
2. Step out of your comfort zone
We may not know what the future holds, but the rate of technological advancements suggests that we can be certain of one thing: Changes will keep coming.
Futurist Mark Pesce says that, although it is human nature to want to be comfortable and safe, it is also natural to want to grow. "I recommend younger people put themselves in situations where they are constantly being challenged. Because if you're not a little bit uncomfortable that you can do a job then you're not developing."
This is where good mentoring can make all the difference, suggests Pesce: "It's much easier to survive that discomfort if there is someone you can turn to and say, 'I don't know how to do this' and talk it through. I think the best employers know this and will support mentoring arrangements; so seek them out."
3. Seek out collaboration
In a recent survey by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and PwC, employers said 'collaboration' was one of the most important skills for the future. However, many employers (notably in the accounting profession) said they struggled to recruit and retain people with these skills.1
"There are a few sides to collaboration," explains Natalie Francis, a workforce consultant at IBM. "The first is: Can I talk within my team and bring my unique point of view to the table? The second is: Can I also communicate my ideas more broadly and work across the organisation as well?"
"Then there is also collaboration with technology," says Francis. "Because technology alone will not drive organisations forward. It requires people and technology working together."
Francis says young people should look for workplaces where there is a genuine commitment to collaboration. A lot can be gleaned by researching potential employers and asking questions during interviews: "Look for signs about the organisation's culture. Is it genuinely okay for people to collaborate and bring new ideas to the table? Do people have access to the latest technology? How is the organisation using AI to augment people's own intelligence?"
4. Embrace your inner entrepreneur
When parents ask futurist Chris Riddell how best to prepare young people for the careers of tomorrow, he suggests they encourage kids' entrepreneurial streak.
"It's that whole lemonade-stand-in-the-front-garden philosophy," says Riddell. "If your children come up with an idea, then support them. Explain that failure isn't a bad thing and you should try, try and try again.
"Young people should challenge themselves to come up with new ideas and make them a reality. Along the way, they will develop broad qualities that could set them up for the future, such as resilience, creativity and adaptability."
5. Prepare for a lifetime of learning
First the good news: many young people can expect to live past the age of 100 thanks to improved living standards and healthcare.2 Now the bad: Living longer could mean working longer to pay for living expenses.3
Careers will involve an ongoing learning to adapt to new technology and new work, according to Mark Pesce: "My operating theory is that by 2030, we will spend about as much time learning the next thing we'll be doing [professionally] as we are doing our current work."
Pesce says employers will be seeking people who can learn fast, and help others to learn too. Blair Sheppard, Global Leader of Strategy and Leadership Development at PwC, has this advice: "…to stay ahead, you need to focus on your ability to continuously adapt… For students, it's not just about acquiring knowledge, but about how to learn. For the rest of us, we should remember that intellectual complacency is not our friend - that learning - not just new things but new ways of thinking - is a lifelong endeavour."1
Article by Andy McLean
1. future[inc], "The Future of Talent: Opportunities Unlimited", date posted: 15/11/2017, accessible at: https://www.charteredaccountantsanz.com/news-and-analysis/insights/future-inc/the-future-of-talent
2. The Guardian, "Great expectations: today’s babies are likely to live to 100, doctors predict", date posted: 2/10/2009, accessible at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2009/oct/02/babies-likely-to-live-to-100
3. BBC News, “Does living to 100 mean we’ll work forever?” date posted: 18/01/2017, accessible at: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-38652359