Despite the predictions of robot-led offices and technology upheaval in the workplace, the future world of work is still a work in progress, according to Kathryn Anda, managing director of productivity consultants PEPworldwide:nz. And that means students need to be adaptable.

She says that students should prepare themselves for many career changes, and soft skills will become even more important.

“A 15-year-old now will likely have 17 different jobs spanning five different career paths in their lifetime. A career will no longer be a chosen vocation for life. People will acquire a number of skills in each role that can be developed and applied in a manner of different ways to explore other job options.

“Some skills will be through the creation of new roles as technology advances, others will see people end up in totally unrelated positions that have evolved from the skills they have honed, expanded and capitalised on.

System change needed

“Continual learning will be required. And that means the education system needs to change to equip young people with the skills and capabilities to be problem solvers and have an entrepreneurial mindset. Our current curriculum does not allow for this.”

She says that the much talked-about artificial intelligence in the workplace is still a work in progress.

“Businesses don’t know what the jobs will look like, or what people will be needed, when (AI) is implemented, so there is huge uncertainty in many roles. Remember, AI is only as good as the data it is being set up from. Businesses are working from a huge unknown, which requires a lot of learning.”

Regardless, young people should expect to be working differently, with a focus on efficiency and flexibility. Future hires are likely to encounter flatter structures where people assume more responsibility and collaborate across teams.

“We’ll see a rise in the uptake of agile working, but more important than putting a name against whatever is the latest tendency is people having clarity around what they are trying to achieve and being able to spend time focusing on those outcomes in a timely, effective manner.”

Professionals’ roles will change too.

“The expectation that you can go to a branch for your banking may not be there, but you might be able to do it at the supermarket. A dentist may not be doing as much actual dentistry if AI comes into play, so what can he be doing instead?”

More flexibility

One good thing that students can look forward to is a more flexible work environment.

“Right now,” says Anda, “it’s more about the balance in hours of work and flexibility, as seen with the Perpetual Guardian trial of five days a week down to four. I believe this will become a standard going forward as many people choose to work when it best suits them.”


The future world of work

  • More role changes and transience across sectors.
  • Continuous learning will become standard.
  • Problem solvers with entrepreneurial mindsets will be sought after.
  • More collaboration across teams.
  • Focus on productivity rather than hours worked.

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