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How do you prepare for jobs that don’t exist…yet?

Innovating within your company

5 minute read
Robot and human touching fingers

In 2020, the World Economic Forum released The Future of Jobs Report, which predicted that 85 million jobs would be displaced by 2025 but that 97 million new jobs would be created.

As technology is ever-changing and growing to suit the needs and demands of the modern world, job positions and availability are also changing.

Marketing Jumpstart Chief Executive Officer Ming Johanson said the landscape for technology was always changing, which could impact the type of roles available.

“We’ve seen an increase in things like cyber security, which is a relatively new industry that has come about, as well as digital marketing – it didn’t really exist 20 years ago,” she said.

“There’s lots to do with social media and community management too.

“Those roles are constantly evolving and businesses need to be open to being innovative and experiment a little bit.”

Being innovative

Innovation plays a large role in the preparation for roles that don’t exist just yet.

Where most businesses are built on a specific structure and processes, it is important to know when to step out of the box and to be innovative.

Entrepreneur and Innovation Consultant Andy Lamb said people were often very analytical and process driven, and they built businesses in organisations the same way.

“We have done so for years and years,” he said.

“I think that structure, which focuses on reliability, predictability and not taking calculated risks, is completely counterproductive to the skills which are needed to keep an eye on what’s going on in the future.

“I think the majority of leaders in organisations today are people that have worked their way up through the ranks and have been effectively programmed to operate in that way.

“So, they’re looking inwards a lot of the time or, if they do start looking externally and looking at market conditions and what’s happening, they often feel they need another analyst or accountant to accomplish the task.

“Often they say ‘we need someone to be able to do the job as it exists today’, rather than think about how they can actually move people towards a more adaptive or entrepreneurial learning style.”

One big hurdle for businesses is feeling like they are catching up, or they are constantly behind in understanding everything.

Ms Johanson said companies did not necessarily need to understand it all to be innovative.

“It's really just about being forward-thinking in your planning for the future and that doesn’t have to be 20 years into the future because we can't look that far,” she said.

“You can look a year into the future or two years into the future at things going on in our communities, our environment and the country, which will impact those decisions.”

Ms Johanson said one way for businesses to stay ahead was by being open to creating new roles themselves.

“Try to protect your business and future profit by being open to creating new roles.” 

“For example, every single job in our business we’ve created," she said.

“What was really interesting was going through terms of employment contracts, trying to find anything that fits our job requirements or job description, which has actually been really difficult.

“So, we had to write them from scratch and basically create roles for people.

“We’ve built in flexibility in those contracts to allow people to create their role.”

Personal  responsibility for professional development

Preparing for jobs that don’t exist yet is also the responsibility of the individual employee in terms of their own development.

Mr Lamb said it was a difficult concept to grasp because, in previous generations, there was a mindset of having one job for life.

“If you’ve grown up like that, you don't always have this desire to always want to be learning,” he said.

“It’s complicated because they might get to 60 and think there's no work for them anymore and just sit back and not do anything, but there’s so much more they could do.”

Mr Lamb said there was an element of forging your own path and defining your own future, which needed to be looked at individually instead of being the responsibility of the organisation you worked within.

“Fundamentally people need to start to take responsibility for their own skills, learning and education as they’re going through life,” he said.

“People always say it’s up to the organisation because organisations want to train people to be better employees.”

Mr Lamb said individuals could disassociate training from their employers and look at their own interests and hobbies, and how they might upskill themselves for themselves.

“I think people have to start taking responsibility for themselves more, rather than thinking they are part of an organisation and the organisation dictates to them what they are meant to do,” he said.

By upskilling and being open to learning, people can prepare themselves for a variety of roles as they appear, but organisations also need to be receptive to that.

Ms Johanson said part of the challenge was that traditional education models did not necessarily fit with the changing job landscape.

“Small courses or short courses, will help people to adapt a lot faster,” she said.

“People should be reviewing what they’re learning every six months and looking at things they might be interested in, as well as how that’s going to help support their community.

“We will experiment with new platforms that come out in our business and we’ll spend maybe 10-20 per cent of our time investing in that new platform, new system or new software.

“One thing I’ve said to my team is that in their work week they can dedicate three hours towards training – any sort of training – adjacent to whatever we’re doing, which is anything to do with technology.

“By doing that, employees are encouraged to learn more about their own roles and the business they work for.”

Variety within the workforce

Having a range of employees across various roles with different skills and mindsets can lead to a greater understanding of technology and trends, which leads to a better grasp on future roles and positions.

“There’s lots of different misconceptions about technology, including being technically minded, or good at maths or good at science in order to be good at technology, which is not true at all,” Ms Johanson said.

“Technology requires lots of different roles, such as creativity, so we want to avoid unconscious biases like these.

“By having more people with lots of different experiences, and lots of different world experiences helps to inform that technology and how the shape of that technology grows as well.”