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Future Of Work: Navigating The Complex Forces Shaping The Workforce Of The Future

Complex and competing forces will shape the workforce of the future. Disruptive technologies, shifting global economic powers, climate change, and new business models will impact every sector and determine what employment will look like in the future.

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The world is transforming at an unprecedented rate. Automation and digital innovation are influencing life and businesses alike. Organisations are striving to adapt to this rapid digitisation and therefore, looking out for new-age skills to help businesses achieve their goals. Competition for the right talent is fierce, and retaining them is another major battle.

Complex and competing forces will shape the workforce of the future. Disruptive technologies, shifting global economic powers, climate change, and new business models will impact every sector and determine what employment will look like in the future. These momentous changes will raise organisational and talent challenges - especially at a time when leaders are already wrestling with upheavals in the fabric of our world. Therefore, governments, businesses, and individuals need to prepare for a future that is influenced by these factors:

Technological Innovation

Big data, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the cloud, automation, the Internet of Things (IoT) are changing how we live and work. AI and IoT are creating smart buildings and factories to enhance people's safety and productivity, the cloud changes the way information is stored and received, big data helps us analyse the information we get, and automation and robotics are forcing us to rethink traditional roles and how they can be improved. Almost two-thirds of potential productivity growth in major economies over the next decade could be from new digital technologies.

Effectively, some jobs will be automated, many more will be created, and almost all will change to suit the 21st-century job landscape. The onward march of disruptive technologies has led to concerns of automation subsidising human workers, which must be addressed by stakeholders who articulate principles such as equity, equality, inclusivity, responsibility, transparency, and accountability, and how technology helps us protect such values.

Demographic shifts in the working population

An increasingly multigenerational workforce will enter the employment landscape in the coming decades. Later retirement ages and a rapid expansion of the millennial population in the workforce – projected to be at 75% by 2025, according to multiple reports – will see workplaces employ as many as three generations at any given time. This will require leaders to manage

diverse expectations, bridge the multigenerational communication gap, and leverage the millennial population’s technological expertise to build cohesive and collaborative teams that drive better culture and performance.

Alternatively, in many developing economies such as India, the problem is not just a lack of skills but mismatched skill sets. This mismatch of talents can lead to severe repercussions in the future workforce. For such developing economies, the need of the hour is to upskill the current workforce and equip them with the necessary skills that are relevant to the needs of Industry 4.0. A recent LinkedIn-led research study shows job skillsets have changed by 25% since 2015 and this number will double by 2027. To upskill employees with 21st-century skills is to help them future-proof themselves, especially when more than 40% of employees are concerned that their job will become obsolete in the next five years. As the World Economic Forum states, upskilling can boost global GDP by over $6 trillion and create 5.3 million new jobs by 2030. In addition, as women are disproportionately affected by both social and economic crises and are over-represented in job losses across various industries, it offers a clear opportunity for them to reskill and upskill in growth sectors including information technology, operations, and logistics. They are an untapped talent pool that should be empowered for the jobs of tomorrow.

Shifts in global economic power

In recent years, India has introduced business-friendly policies to ensure ease of doing business in the country to stimulate economic development and growth. India is also home to the world’s largest millennial market, with 34% of the country’s population in this age group. Reports state that 56% of new hires in 2022 are expected to be freshers with 0-5 years of experience reflecting the great demand thanks to the growth of existing careers coupled with the birth of new ones. Thanks to dramatic growth in industries like digitisation and automation, shifting supply chains, rising incomes, and a greater focus on sustainability, health, and safety, job opportunities are accelerating at an astounding rate in the country. As per a report, India is expected to see massive growth over the next three decades, averaging 5% growth in GDP annually, according to a report – making it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The government is also pursuing “production-linked incentives” for multinational companies looking to diversify their production. If these incentives prove successful, more of the world’s high-tech and high-paying jobs will be produced within India’s borders.

Resource depletion and climate change

Climate change is not only a matter of environmental concern; it affects jobs too. From urban planners to technologists, engineers to doctors, financial planners to farmers, professionals from a wide range of industries are likely to find their sectors impacted by climate change. Climate mitigation goals are driving countries around the world to shift towards low-cost renewables for economic growth and recovery. Sustainable technology choices have created socio-economic benefits in many economies, previewing a push towards a zero-emissions world. The world is now seeing smart technology that enables better energy-saving, flexible working models that prioritise workers’ safety during extreme conditions, and companies are committing to a greener working model. The focus on climate change has increased the attractiveness of green economy jobs, according to analysts, and the economy of the future is expected to be larger, with nearly 30 million jobs directly related to renewables and efficiency.

To understand the future of work, it is essential to explore the major factors impacting this landscape. Only then can organisations and businesses prepare themselves for the rapidly-evolving employment landscape.

(This article has been penned down by Sunil K Dalal, Chairman and Founder, UNIDEL Group especially for BW Businesworld publication)


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