The Future of Work: 10-Year Workforce Trends and How You Can Prepare

Experts are already making predictions on what the workforce of 2030 will look like. Ten years may seem like a long time from now, but the reality is there are steps you can take today to better prepare for the future of work. The 2019 Gartner Research Circle Survey asked businesses around the world how they see their workforce changing in the next ten years in terms of leadership and talent management, and there are several major trends that came out of this research. Read on for key workforce trends to look for in the next ten years, and most importantly, how you can prepare for them now.  Watch for these key workforce trends Businesses are predicting several changes to the makeup of their workforce, their leadership styles, and the technology needed to excel. These trends serve to highlight changes happening on a global scale: A blended workforce In 2020, full-time employees are still the norm, with other traditional roles (part-time employees, fixed-term employees, and contractors) being in the mix as well. Traditional roles, in fact, provide approximately 95% of the work in the organizations surveyed. By 2030, expect to see a more blended workforce with both traditional and non-traditional members being vital to organizations. Non-traditional persons include “gig workers”, or those who provide on-demand services but are self-employed freelancers or independent contractors.  Robots and artificial intelligence (AI)-augmented resources will also become more significant contributors to large organizations. Individuals will need to learn how to work alongside and with these new kinds of technology. Businesses, on the other hand, will have to craft a clear strategy for incorporating AI into their business processes and talent management plans.  collaboration workforce trends Increased focus on skill development and collaboration The future of work will be in an environment of accelerated, continuous change. With the introduction of new technologies and the ever-changing makeup of the workforce itself, individuals should expect to engage in ongoing learning. People will need to re-skill, up-skill, and learn entirely new skills as they adapt to these adjustments. Businesses will no doubt be focused on developing the skills of their existing members, helping these individuals transition to new roles in the organization for added efficiencies. The talent in an organization will have to be as mobile as possible in order to react to fast-paced developments. One skill that will become particularly important according to survey respondents is the ability to collaborate. Because the workforce will be a blend of different roles and technologies, businesses will prize individuals who are able to collaborate with a variety of people and ideas. The more they can adapt to new technology, the more likely they are to succeed.  New leadership requirements Managing a blended workforce isn’t a skill many people managers have today. This will have to change by 2030. The role of people managers will become increasingly important, as they are in charge of maintaining a positive and productive experience for their constituents in the midst of constant change. To be successful, managers will need to learn a new set of soft skills that will complement their ability to manage traditional and non-traditional members, robots, and AI-augmented resources.  Survey participants ranked two capabilities as being most critical: the ability to empower the members of their organization, and the ability to communicate effectively. Emotional intelligence and supportive leadership were also notable mentions.  Faster, AI-augmented technology AI isn’t going away. In reality, major businesses must have an AI strategy (and a people strategy that supports it) in place soon in order to be successful in 2030. By and large, organizations surveyed are already making adjustments to their operational planning and talent management strategies. Over a third of these organizations are already looking to hire more people with technical skills in AI and other trending technical areas, such as the cloud and Internet of Things. Technology changes will likely impact most processes in large companies. Naturally, people who can adapt quickly to new technologies will be valued the highest.  How you can prepare for a changing workforce If you take away one thing from these predictions, let it be this: being proactive now will give you a competitive advantage in the future workforce. Here are a few steps you can start taking today to help you excel in the next ten years: Engage in lifelong learning No matter which skills you possess now, understand that to be successful in a fast-paced workforce you must be prepared to learn, unlearn, and re-learn skills. This is called continuous, or lifelong learning. Your first step? Adopt a mindset today that you will never stop learning. Keep up-to-date on skill trends, and expend extra effort working on developing the skills that resonate most with you. In the future, anticipate that your employer may ask you to switch roles, or learn a new skill, as the workforce becomes more blended and tech-savvy. Practice learning a new skill now, so you’re ready when that request comes. Engaging in continuous learning will set you up to succeed in an unpredictable environment.  Stay current on technical trends You may have heard technical buzzwords being spoken around you, like “AI”, “Big Data”, “data mining”, etc. It’s easy to dismiss these as being just that—buzzwords—but the reality is you should be aware of what these terms mean. Skim the news regularly for technology updates and you won’t be caught by surprise when changes come. You’ll also have a better understanding of what kinds of roles and skills are in demand in the workforce of the future.  Balance both soft and technical skills There’s little doubt that having technical skills will be critical to success in the 2030 workforce. Consider learning technical skills in a high-demand area like AI or machine learning. Large organizations will have an increasing demand for individuals with skills in these areas, and with current shortages in almost all of them, you could set yourself up to be a stand-out candidate.  But don’t forget the soft skills. As mentioned, collaboration is going to be a key skill in the future of work. Make sure you’re practicing this skill in all of your interactions with others. It’s also important to develop the soft skills that will be valued most, like the ability to empower others and to communicate effectively.  Lastly, be flexible Being flexible is one of the best attributes you can have in a changeable environment. Technology is transforming business rapidly, and if you’re unwilling to adapt to these transformations, you could be left behind by 2030. Instead, remain willing to accept new opportunities, consider new types of roles, and learn new skills. 
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