Aged 30? You’ll be working until 2050!
This topic from Incite 75 has provoked much comment, and added several new subscriptions. There is an intense interest in how we can manage our own destiny in these uncertain times. Look out for further postings on “future thinking”.
In her book “The Shift: the future of work is already here” Lynda Gratton discusses how work will change in the future. Based on extensive research she describes how to craft a career that can best stand the test of time.
The perspective that is described below will affect how you think about your career, and gives food for thought to directors and senior managers on their resource planning and how to support individual career expectations.
Looking at present trends she explains that if you are now aged 30, you can expect to work for the next 40 years – that means in 2050 you will be a member of the workforce. If you are 50, you can expect to be actively employed for another 20 years – that’s 2030. If you have young children, they could be working until 2070.
Professor Gratton identifies 5 forces that will shape work and careers;
- the globalisation of talent,
- the development of connective technologies;
- the changes in demography and longevity;
- broad societal forces that will see trust in institutions further decrease and families become ever more re-arranged;
- and the effect of carbon use [and presumably the rising cost of energy, and the challenge of sustainability].
From her blog Lynda offers 10 tips about skills, networks and choices to which I have added some additional comments, see below.
1. Keep informed and up to date on the forces that are shaping work and careers where you wish to be employed.
2. Learn to be flexible & virtual – If you are a young ‘digital native’ you are already connected to this – but if you are over 30 the chances are you are already behind on your understanding. Work will become more global and that means that increasingly you will be working with people in a virtual way – it is crucial that you learn to embrace these developments and don’t let yourself become obsolete through lack of technical knowhow.
3. Search for the valuable skills – think hard about the skill areas that are likely to be important in the future – for example sustainability, health and wellness, support for older people, design and social media are all likely to be areas where work will be created over the next decade. Remember that personal service jobs that involve working closely with people (chef, hairdresser, physiotherapist, nurse & business mentor) are unlikely to move to another country.
4. Become a Master – don’t be fooled into spread your talents too thinly. Being a ‘jack of all trades’ will mean you are competing with millions of others around the world, or tens of thousands in your own country, who are similar. Separate yourself from the crowd by really learning to master a skill or talent that you can develop with real depth.
5. Be prepared to strike out on your own – there will always be work with big companies. We have entered the age of the ‘micro-entrepreneur’ when ever decreasing costs of technology will significantly reduce the barriers to getting off the ground, and when talented people across the world will be connected and keen to work with each other.
6. Find your own crew – to create valuable skills and knowledge you will need to quickly reach out to others who can help and advise you. This small ’crew’ of like-minded and skilled people is a network that will be central to your really building speed and agility in your career.
7. Build the Big Ideas network – the future is about innovation, and sometime your best, most innovative ideas will come as you talk and work with people who are completely different from you – perhaps they have a different mindset, or come from a different country – or are younger. It is this wide network, the ‘big ideas crowd’ that will be a crucial source of inspiration.
8. Go beyond the family - your career success will depend in part on your emotional well being and resilience. In a world of ever shifting relationships, it’s important that you invest in developing deep restorative relationships with a couple of people – this is your ‘regenerative community’ and they are crucial to your well being and happiness. [This is part of Lynda Gratton’s prediction that the family as a unit is fragmenting, and in future people will create their own “families” though not linked by blood].
9. The new hard choices – your working life will be shaped by the shifting patterns of longevity (you are likely to live considerably longer than your parents) and demography (in many regions there will be a much higher proportion of people over 50). So you need a strategy for the long term.
You have three new choices: 1. Build a career that enables you to work longer (at least into your late 60′s or early 70’s), 2. Be prepared (like the Chinese who save around 40% of their income) to save a significant proportion of your income throughout your working life, 3. Consider ways to reduce your consumption and live more simply. It does not matter which hard choice you make – but you are going to have to make at least one of them. [Think also of how your parents are living much longer then their parents, and how will this affect your chosen career].
10. Become a producer rather than a simple consumer – the old deal at work Lynda describes as: ’I work, to earn money, to buy stuff that makes me happy’ is rapidly becoming obsolete. Engaging in meaningful work where you can rapidly learn to create value will become a priority.
For more on Lynda Gratton, her publications and the Future of Work Consortium
Gratton is Professor of Management Practice at London Business School
To have a facilitated discussion on this or related topics, contact Celtar email@example.com