A Look at the Working Landscape in 2035

The future isn't set in stone, however it is clear that technology will highly impact the working population, in some cases for the better and in others for the worse, and the reality is that everyone is vulnerable to these changes.

Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com

Work is changing, of that there is no question. For instance, since the last financial crisis there has been a definite shift in the structure of employment. According to TUC (Trades Union Congress) statistics, during that time the percentage of full-time employees in the UK has fallen from 64% of the working population to 62% in 2014 - a slide of 669,000.

On the other hand, there has been a significant and steady rise in the number of those setting up on their own - 39 out of every 40 new jobs created during this period have been self-employed ones.

With fewer jobs available, some have become self-employed because they felt they had no choice, but many others have seen it as a positive step towards gaining control of their working life.

The switch to work independence is likely to become the first choice option for many more - not because of the expected reasons such as zero hours contracts and part-time working - but because, if the forecasts are right, their jobs will have gone to robots or computers!

In fact, over the next 20 years, in Britain alone, ten million existing jobs will be 'technologised' in this way.

That's the stark conclusion of a new joint report by major accountancy firm Deloitte and the University of Oxford.

Those most at risk will be in low-paid positions, carrying out repetitive tasks - those earning less than £30,000 a year will be five times more likely to lose their job this way than someone paid £100,000.

With that said, having a good job won't necessarily make you immune to such structural changes, so don't imagine it can't happen to you, even if you feel secure right now in a professional or managerial role.

The future isn't set in stone, however it is clear that technology will highly impact the working population, in some cases for the better and in others for the worse, and the reality is that everyone is vulnerable to these changes.

So how can you prepare yourself for the future of work?

1. Understand and accept that the world of work is changing. We all believe ourselves to be safe in our bubble, immune to the changes that affect others. If that bubble bursts, we can find ourselves suddenly exposed, fearful and unprepared. So start thinking about this reality now and be ready to move fast. In our rapidly changing world, it's easy to leave things too late, caught up in the pressures of our everyday lives. You may want everything to be perfect before making a move, but you may not have time, so begin preparing now, while you still have choices open to you.

2. Keep growing your expertise. Make yourself more unique and marketable by combining different skills and areas of expertise. Since this new technology is likely to be applied to 'mass market' jobs, where the greatest economies of scale can be achieved, by making yourself a specialist you won't be so easy to replace. This 'niche' uniqueness will help define your added value and your personal brand, and so help you stay in demand in a squeezed marketplace.

3. Invest in yourself short and long term. If employers are planning to invest in technology, they will have less incentive to invest in your training, so it's down to you to make yourself more flexible, knowledgeable, skilled and adaptable to change. Never stop learning.

4. Keep the bigger picture in mind. And think several steps ahead, not just what's next. If you really want to stay ahead of the curve in your industry, don't look one year ahead, but two or three. If you focus on the obvious 'next steps', you'll not only be doing the same as everyone else, but you'll be equipping yourself with skills with a very short shelf life, that are already outdated before you acquire them. What you need are skills for the future, ones you can use for years to come. To find out what they might be, read widely and listen to what experts and commentators are saying about the next big thing, upcoming trends and future skills deficits, and look for patterns in a variety of industries.

5. Be prepared to do something entirely different. Don't stick resolutely with the herd - if you stay with the pack and do what everybody else does, you're putting yourself at risk - there is no safety in numbers. Become more visionary in your outlook, and learn to trust your instincts. You need to look further, dig deeper and go beyond what 'logic' tells you - often there is none.

So look at self-employment with fresh eyes - it's the way to put yourself in charge. As an employee, you're at the mercy of someone else's whim, and others' decisions are unlikely to be made with your best interests in mind.

Think differently about change. Change is an opportunity, if you embrace it properly. By its very nature, makes things happen, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. But if you are anti-change, then whatever happens you will always see it as being for the worse.

You may not know what is going to happen, but that doesn't mean you can't start preparing for radical change. We are entering a very interesting age. Where will it lead us? No one can say for sure, but stay light on your feet and you're less likely to find a robot sitting in your chair some day.

Think big, think further, think tomorrow.

Maite Baron writes at TheCorporateEscape.com where she shares strategies to help you take control of your professional live. To get useful ideas, tips and the latest updates start by download 2 free chapters of Award winning book Corporate Escape The Rise of the New Entrepreneur here