What will the nine-to-five look like by 2053?

Pete Taylor peers into his crystal ball to forecast the nature of learning and work – and offers tips on how to keep up

Pete Taylor

The jobs market is ever changing, but never has it moved as quickly and as fluidly as it does today. Many jobs that didn’t even exist 20 years ago are now commonplace – smartphone app developer, social media manager, SEO specialist, drone pilot – all roles that were unheard of at the turn of the millennium.

Against this rapid evolutionary backdrop, research from experts in the Institute for the Future in 2019 found up to 85 per cent of the jobs that today’s college students will have in 11 years haven’t been invented yet.

So, how do you prepare for a job that doesn’t even exist yet? How can you make forecasts when the labour market is evolving at an unprecedented pace?

The advancement of technology, automation and AI is a hot topic at the moment, sparking concerns about the influence it will have on the future of jobs. Undeniably it will have an impact, but maybe not the robots taking over the world – as a lot of people are concerned about. Instead, we expect to see traditional job roles transforming and new ways of working emerge. Essentially the future of work will be dynamic and multifaceted. We will enter a skills-based economy, where it is more focused on skills and expertise than specific job titles.

Between now and 2027, businesses have predicted that 44 per cent of workers’ core skills will be disrupted because technology is moving faster than companies can design and scale up their training programmes. 

As technologies such as AI become more prevalent in the workplace, we will see the administrative side of job roles potentially being taken away. Although this may sound scary, it will allow employees to work in harmony with technology to complete day-to-day tasks more efficiently, rather than entirely replacing them. However, this does mean that the type of skills in demand in the future will be different to what we have experienced before. Skills such as analytical and creative thinking are expected to be most desired, with leadership, social influence, curiosity and lifelong learning among other skills predicted to see growing demand.

Essentially, it is traits that make us human, that enable us to relate and work with others, and get things done in the workplace, that can’t be performed by technology, that will be so important.

For the future workers of today, if they’re unsure about what job roles will be available to them, focusing on skills that are very transferable will be a sure way to keep them relevant and desired by employers. But when it comes to shaping the current workforce, this looks very different and raises new challenges for employers. It’s predicted that six in 10 workers will require training on the job, but only half of workers are seen to have access to adequate training opportunities.

If businesses want to stay ahead of the changing market, keeping teams up to date with the latest technology advancements and ways of working with access to regular training will be incredibly important. However, this won’t follow the traditional notion of training as we currently know it, as this too will be advanced as it partners with new technologies. For example, we may see the rise of augmented reality headsets that will provide information in real time to get the task in hand done.

When thinking about the future of jobs, it’s often approached with a negative view that roles will be replaced with tech and the market will shrink. Yet, I believe it’s quite the opposite. Opportunities for the future are only set to grow as new technologies open up new paths for the generations ahead of us.

The key factor here is how businesses will respond to this, and what, if any, proactive steps they will take to prepare the workforce for the transformation that is fast approaching.

Pete Taylor is MD of Gi Group