The new job market: Will you survive?

AGAINST a backdrop of economic turmoil, uncertainty and unprecedented change, head of the logistics task force subcommittee on education and training, Dr Fritz Pinnock, sees the need for a paradigm shift in how we have traditionally viewed work.

“Work is no longer as it used to be. The impact of technology, communication and knowledge has resulted in the rise of the new economy,” said Dr Pinnock, who is also the executive director of the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI).

“The global competition between different countries is leading whole industries to migrate. Dramatic changes are happening to terms of employment. Also, the concept of a ‘lifelong job’ has disappeared. Increasingly, the individual needs to take personal responsibility for his or her own job and career,” he pointed out.

The educator believes that more than anything else, creativity is going to be vital for every worker “from the shop floor to the boardroom” going forward. An entrepreneurial spirit will also be important to maintaining competitiveness in a globally turbulent world.

Here are some of the new changes he believes are taking place in the workplace that both employers and employees need to be aware of:

1. Personal development is ongoing

Gone are the days when employers can be satisfied with just a first degree or certification in just one particular area. “The selection of employees and retention of talent will become more complex as employers will demand the best and will be highly selective in their choice of candidates,” said Dr Pinnock. Individuals will therefore have to continuously prepare for future job demands, and training and learning will be very important because of continuous changes in job-related opportunities.

2. Employees determine the what, when, where and how

Knowledge workers will begin to see a blurring of the lines between their professional and personal lives in the years ahead. “As the future gets closer, employees will have more opportunities to determine what they do, when they do it, where they do it, and — most importantly — how they do it,” said Dr Pinnock. “The old work style involved going to a corporate office because that’s where all the relevant files were kept. There were company resources there and that’s where meetings took place. In the future, that sort of work style will be less and less visible.”

3. Globalisation becomes more than a buzzword

The movement of goods, services, ideas and people has become so much easier and this is something that businesses will need to take into consideration. “Ignoring globalisation as part of managing career advancement will be fatal and will severely curtail career opportunities for individuals,” the CMI head pointed out.

4. Employees will have to market themselves to improve the company’s bottom line

According to Dr Pinnock, “employees can no longer think in terms of simply being a worker earning a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. Employers will increasingly demand that individuals think and work entrepreneurially. Individuals will have to continuously keep asking themselves what makes them unique and what enables them to make a difference in the workplace”. It will be essential for employees to help to develop ways for the company to make a profit.

5. Focus on multiple skills rather than one

Unlike Jack who has several skills but is master of none, higher levels of competency will be required in several skill areas if you are to make it in the 21st century. “Just as important as the ability to do one thing extremely well, so it will be essential to do a dozen things at once, and change course without hesitation,” Dr Pinnock said. He believes individuals will have to be the consummate professionals who work obsessively at their trade or craft.

6. Technology will dominate the workspace

We have already started to see how important technology on the go is, and those who are not logging on will have little choice but to adapt. Technological advancement will no doubt leave some people out in the cold, but it will also create new opportunities for a highly skilled workforce and add to the various changes that will continue to take place in workplaces.

7. Networking becomes crucial

Networking will become a necessary skill for even the most introverted person. The more business contacts, friends and social connections you have will add to your value as a prospective employee. “For individuals past 40, it will be invaluable to be plugged into networks of the under 40s. For the under 40s, it will be equally important to be connected to the over 40s. The under 40s will generally bring with them technology, modern business ideas and processes while the over 40s will bring with them know-how, experience and years of expertise,” Dr Pinnock pointed out.

8. Re-invention will become necessary

New knowledge and opportunities will have to be explored if you hope to survive or be continuously employed. You will not only need to have a passion for the work you do, but also for self-renewal. This means you will need to be able to take risks and look at things with a new eye.

9. Workers will have to adapt to multiple cultures

Cross cultural people skills will become extremely important because your marketplace will not only be your immediate surroundings, but the global community. Developing cultural intelligence will mean understanding the fundamentals of intercultural interaction, building adaptive skills and creating different approaches to intercultural communication.

10. Workspaces will have to be re-designed

You will probably find less of a need for a corporate office as more people start to work from their own facilities. As such, employers would probably need to focus less on creating and managing office spaces and more on enabling and facilitating work.

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