It’s hard to plan your future career when you don’t even know whether your current job will exist in 5 years, let alone 10 years.
According to Jo Cribb and David Glover, authors of Don’t Worry About the Robots, planning for the future involves more than just arming yourself with a list of future jobs in demand and picking out a Masters course.
We need to teach ourselves an entire new way of thinking about work and how we prepare for it. Canadian learning consultant Harold Jarche sums it up well in the book:
We cannot become more efficient than machines. All we can do is be more curious, more creative, more empathetic. The fact that automation is taking away jobs once designed for people means that it is time we focus on what is really important; our humanity.
How can we prepare for future jobs in demand?
Cribb and Glover spend the first part of the book laying out how getting ready for the future world of work will go hand-in-hand with the reinvention of learning. The skills needed for the workforce in the past – such as expertise in just one particular area – are not those that will be needed in the future.
The World Economic Forum has identified a set of future skills that we’ll need to stay in the workforce. In times gone by these were referred to as ‘soft skills’. In the coming years, they’ll be core. They include critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, curiosity, initiative, persistence, adaptability, leadership, social and cultural awareness.
To me it sounds like an excellent argument for doing an Arts degree. (I’d like to pause now and take a moment to thumb my nose at everyone who said I’d end up working at McDonald’s after graduating from my B.A. Turns out I was just ahead of my times.)
Of course, being a consummate debater on the topic of classical philosophy is not quite enough.
According to Cribb and Glover, we’ll also need to have an entrepreneurial mindset. Even if we’re still technically employees:
In fact, many employers now say this ability to try, learn and change direction is a core capability they need in all their staff. There’s an entrepreneur somewhere in all of us.
This changing pattern of work has huge implications for every part of our lives. I could have jumped into the book and hugged Vivien Maidaborn, chief executive of UNICEF NZ:
We need to be thinking way more about valued roles in communities and families and workplaces than just about paid work. Because work is going to change so dramatically.
Feeling overwhelmed yet? The good news is that the authors spend the second half of the book walking you through, step-by-step, exactly what you need to do. How to develop the mindset and habits that will help you have a successful and satisfying career at every stage of your own life in the period of massive change that will be the coming decades.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is coming, so you’d better prepare yourself. I loved this quote from William Gibson, a science-fiction writer:
The future is here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.
Cribb and Glover encourage us to look around at the clues to the future, to try to understand what will happen and how we can prepare. Of course, you could also just pick up a book by a futurist or read widely to leverage other people’s observational skills (like this book, for example).
I find career advice books tend to push a single agenda – you must have a 5-year plan, you must set goals, you must wake up at 4.30am every day. The refreshing thing about Don’t Worry About The Robots is that the injection of wisdom from both authors plus 12 interviewees – all of whom view success very differently – makes this relevant to you no matter what your mindset.
Take Joshua Vial for example – an entrepreneur and computer programmer who grew up around ashrams. Rather than plotting 5-year plans, he prefers to concentrate on his behaviours and mindset, and follow what excites him:
I don’t have a long-term plan. I think more about habits. I’m not very goal oriented. There are so many times I’ve seen the future diverge from what I thought would happen, that I feel like goals aren’t useful in the long term.
Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of review. This post contains affiliate links.