Generation ZWorkForce

Face the Future by Preparing in the Present

Working in an AI startup for the last five years gave me a glimpse into new workforce trends. The skills that we were looking for, the job descriptions that we were writing were new even for us.

We had three converging areas that we had to factor in.

  • the rapid learning in an emerging technology,
  • the rise of new business models responding new barriers, opportunities and entrants
  • the democratization of workforce tools,
  • a hyperconnected global community and
  • the diversity of an intergenerational workforce.

This was not a challenge that we faced alone. Big companies and start ups are both in the throes of trying to understand how to hire for potential and scale for performance.

An excellent report from Cognizant talks about twenty one intriguing jobs that are appearing in the horizon.

The modern economies in which most of us live are extremely large and contain extremely heterogeneous workforces. The gross domestic product of the U.S. is over $18.5 trillion. Across the G7 economies, it is $33.93 trillion. Within these economies are thousands and thousands of different types of jobs and a huge number of niches subject to a diverse range of trends and countertrends.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teachers make up 2.7% of the U.S. workforce. Workers in the combined areas of entertainment, arts, design, sports and media only represent 2.2%. Healthcare workers are another 12.5%; food preparation and service staff 8.3%; sales people are 10.2%; cashiers another 2.3%. Even the largest job category (office and administrative support personnel) only represents 15.1% of the entire workforce.

The upshot of all this diversity is that even the most powerful trends and dynamics that change how we work – such as the rise of AI –could never change every type of work, in the same way, at the same time. The heterogeneity of the workforce ensures its resiliency against a wholesale collapse of employment. [Cognizant]

The 3 C’s

According to Cognizant, the three C’s of coaching, caring and connecting are the key differentiators that elevate the human.

These 3C’s speak to a universal truth – that no matter how technological our age becomes, ultimately we, as humans, want the human touch. We want technology to help us, as a tool, but we don’t want technology for technology’s sake. We use an iPhone (a technology) to play a game or send a message to a loved one. We use a spread sheet (a technology) to create a business answer. We use a self-driving car (a technology) to better see the countryside or play with our kids. Technology is a means, not the end.

Adding value

The question is not how do we stay employed. That will make you redundant down the road because it is based on your neediness not your added value.

For example, a data journalist is a hybrid role that brings writing, exploratory thought, creative thinking but also an ability to understand the trail of data.

Or the new breed of AI fueled industry research that has to be quickly digested and then repositioned as real time industry insights. There is new breed of research updates that are delivered everyday collated automatically with little or no human interaction or analysis.

You will need excellent tech chops to become the master of edge computing or a quantum machine learning analyst but then there are also exciting jobs like tree revivalists, memory sharpeners and virtual world real estate agents. High tech or low tech, there is no escaping the reality that we swim in tech every day.

So the best way to face the future is to prepare in the present.