A look at the future of work and what it means

Business News | 26 Dec, 2018 |

You don’t need a technology degree or Nostradamus-like skillset to see that the labor market – and the way in which Americans work – is changing. In fact, the future of work will look a lot different than it does today. And the future is approaching much faster than most people realize. Are you ready?

The Biggest Trends and Predictions

Nobody knows what the future may hold, but one thing is for certain: The future of work will look a whole lot different than the past. Here are some big trends and predictions to keep an eye on:

Freelancing Becomes the Norm

Currently, there are more than 57 million freelancers in the United States. This represents a little more than one-third of the American workforce. But by 2027, a huge shift will occur and freelancers will actually become the majority.

By 2027, experts are suggesting there will be an astonishing 86.5 million freelancers, compared to just 83.4 million non-freelancers. This shift will occur as a result of a few different factors. For starters, millennials are much more open to the idea. So as they come to represent an even larger portion of the workforce, they’ll inevitably move away from traditional W-2 jobs and towards 1099 “employment.”

Companies will also become more comfortable with the idea of hiring freelancers, rather than onboarding full-time employees and paying for expensive benefits. It’ll become a mutually attractive setup for all parties involved.

AI and Job Loss

Throughout history, you can find examples of people who predicted that technology would replace the need for people. Here we are in 2018 and employment numbers are better than ever. So be wary of people who tell you that new automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will take away your job.

AI won’t lead to massive job loss, but it will change the way we work. As AI thought leader Ross McIntyre says, “AI is not going to take your job, but someone using AI is.”

Think of it like this: trucking is one of the largest industries in the country. While driverless trucks will soon be a thing, it won’t be possible for driverless vehicles to operate without programmers and support staff. Truck drivers won’t become obsolete, but programmers will take their jobs. Thus, the occupation will evolve. Truck drivers who think they can become programmers will have to shift their focus. Those who don’t have the skills to program will have to move in another direction.

Location No Longer Matters

It used to be that people moved to different cities and states based on the availability of jobs and the type of industries that were present in these locations. In the future, this won’t be a huge factor. As the internet and cloud technology continues to grow, location will no longer be an issue. Remote working will become the norm, which will give people more flexibility to work and live where they please.

Education Evolves

It doesn’t take an expert to tell you that the American education system is broken. Today’s college graduates are leaving school with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, general skillsets, and low-paying entry-level jobs. Pretty soon, we’ll reach a breaking point where an educational revolution will occur.

“I’m optimistic that future education will become more flexible to suit the needs of a 21st century workforce,” writes Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork. “Project-based schools, many offered by technology experts, are cropping up. Examples include Holberton in San Francisco, founded by Sylvain Kalache and Julien Barbier; Wildflower School in Boston, founded by former Google exec Sep Kamvar; and Portfolio in New York, founded by Babur Habib and Doug Schachtel. These schools set the stage for what future education will look like. We will rethink the way talent is developed and deployed, and prepare students for a lifetime of learning better paced to the rapid evolution of skills.”

The Future is Now

Whether you realize it or not, the future of work is approaching. In many ways, we already have one foot into the future. Before too long, everything will have shifted, and the present ways of working will be nothing more than a chapter in the history books. By keeping up with the trends and staying aware of how your industry is evolving, you can be better prepared to adapt.

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