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First they came for your factory job. Now they are coming for your office job.

The World Economic Forum just released its global report on the future of jobs through to 2020 [PDF]. It is a worldwide, cross industry survey of HR professionals and executives.

The driving themes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are well known.

The result of these trends is a global net loss of over 5 million jobs in the next five years.

Two thirds of these losses will come from the Office and Administrative job family, with another 1.6 million coming from Manufacturing and Production

A modest gain of 2 million will come from the complex task of managing people, money, information or technology. Even within these areas data analyst roles will see major growth.

Employment growth is expected to derive disproportionately from smaller, generally high-skilled job families that will be unable to absorb job losses coming from other parts of the labour market. Even if they could, significant reskilling would be needed.

What does this mean for me?

  1. Across all industries, just having an office or customer service job is not going to cut it any more. They are obsolete.
  2. Across all industries, data analyst roles are increasing. Competency with data is an essential skill.
  3. Marketing and Sales is becoming more important as markets become more competitive and products more complex.
  4. New HR and organizational design roles are needed to manage freelancing, telecommunity, and virtual teams.

Even with the extensive reskilling suggested by the report, only half of the respondents felt ready for the changes coming.

The solution

  1. Always reinvent yourself. What you knew 5 years ago is already obsolete. In your organizations prioritize lifelong learning.
  2. You have to understand how to use data. As I wrote before, you either adjust your work to fit the computer, or you are amongst the 5 million new unemployed.
  3. Having a great product is not enough. You have to know how to get your message through the clutter.

Companies may be unsure about their reskilling efforts. But the good news is that it has never been easier to access the learning and best practices of others basically for free.

All that is required is that you take the first step.

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