The Future of Work: Personal, Adaptive, Protected

World of Work July 14, 2019

About a decade ago, few companies used the internet as a means to research potential candidates to employ for the workforce. Now, having a bad online presence is considered detrimental to a company or employee’s reputation. CareerBuilder conducted a national survey and found that 57% of employers are less likely to interview a candidate they cannot find online. Back in the day, you had no choice but to trust what an employer told you about their company. In 2019, we can look at thousands of reviews from former and current employees on websites like GlassDoor discussing everything from the quality of air conditioning to how terrible the cafeteria food is!

Exponential technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are making breakthroughs in what we can achieve. It may be inevitable that such technologies will continue to shape how we interact and work for years to come, shifting demand for traditional skill sets in favor of new ones that fit harmoniously with tech.

During our WISE event in Paris, we sat down with three special guests, Adrian Ledoux of JobTeaser, Pierre Dubuc of OpenClassrooms, and Samir Saran of the Observer Research Foundation.

Samir argues that the game of employment is still playing by 20th century rules:

“Work is increasingly going to become more informal, it is going to be far from transformational, and it is going to be far more personal than ever before.”

“The rote employment that used to give us our daily bread is a thing of the past. We have a whole new generation that is aspirational, that requires purpose, that requires new forms of protection, and that requires paychecks.

Paychecks, purpose, and protection. How do we deliver these 3 P’s to the billions of youth who are now looking expectantly at the opportunities ahead?”

New forms of services made possible through tech have paved the way for innovative systems of work and employment. Samir makes it clear that with the advent of such changes, it is imperative to draft legislation that extends social protection to all people, including those who are pursuing new types of work.

“When you were employed in the 20th century you got certain insurances, health protections, pension plans, gratuity. You were also in many cases treated to education support for your children, housing support, etc. There was a whole social protection ecosystem built around your employment.  

Now let’s fast forward to this decade. You are a part-time consultant, a part-time Uber driver, and you are starting your own small enterprise. Which of these three is going to give you a pension, gratuity, medical care, housing support, education support for your children? Probably none of them. Who is responsible for providing these inputs to every individual? My answer is that these must be separated from the employment itself.”

“Every human being must have protection available to them irrespective of their employment, the nature of their employment, or the terms of employment. Which means if someone is underemployed, unemployed, or partially employed, the State steps in.”

“Uberization of social protection is important.”

Meanwhile, our talk with Pierre shed some light on the kind of changes we should expect.

“We estimate that there will be around 1 billion people who will need to be reskilled on digital skills in the next 12 years. It’s a volume we have never experienced so far so I would say we need to find solutions that are evolving a bit faster and that can really scale.”

Reskilling is a hot topic when it comes to discussing the future of work. According to a survey by McKinsey, 82% of $100 million annual revenue companies believe that reskilling and retraining should be at least half the answer to addressing the skills gap.

“The pace of change is accelerated nowadays. So now we say that graduates from college programs would probably experience between 10 to 15 totally different jobs in their lifetime. That’s basically a new job every 5 years, so jobs and competencies behind those jobs are changing faster than ever.”

“There is a widening gap between what employers need and what universities, colleges, vocational training providers actually provide in terms of competencies on the market.”

Pierre also explained one of the ways OpenClassrooms is approaching the challenge:

“We have this map of jobs and competencies and then we train degree programs from this map of employer’s needs. So we start from there and we go even further by building the talent supply chain for those employers.

Imagine you are a big bank and you want to hire 100 data scientists in Berlin and 15 in New York. It’s going to be tough because there are not many data scientists right now on the market. You need to actually create them. So those employers will provide us with the number of jobs, competencies, and locations, then we will create a company-tailored curriculum.”

From the perspective of a young graduate, such rapid changes may prove to be overwhelming and people like Adrien agree with the sentiment.

“They are being told that by 2030, 85% of the jobs that will exist then don’t exist today. They are being taught that what they are learning at university is going to be obsolete by the time they graduate so… good luck with that. But they will probably have more options.”

“I believe that the future will entail that you will have to be adaptable and change and the time of having one job for your whole career is over. You will have to change 8, 9, 10 times in your life. So being able to switch and be comfortable with that is the future of work.”

Adaptability is the key term here and companies like Adrien’s JobTeaser continue to assess changes in the market and respond with solutions.

“We know that by talking to companies and through the survey that we did, that companies are expecting some agility at work, but it’s also the ability to change jobs.”

“What I can say is that career guidance needs to be a bigger subject than it is today in the classroom. It has to be at the same level of how you teach hard or soft skills in the university, it needs to be at the same level and today we see that it’s not the case.”