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Future of Work: 7 Trends That Will Change Work Forever

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Future of Work: 7 Trends That Will Change Work ForeverFuture of Work: 7 Trends That Will Change Work Forever

The world of work is changing. In addition to technological progress, globalization, climate change and profound demographic shifts are the triggers for this. Compared with the Industrial Revolution, economic change at the beginning of the 21st century is taking place ten times faster and on a scale 300 times larger. It is therefore only logical that this creates new challenges for the world of work. In the following, we present the mutually influencing global trends that will turn the world and future of work upside down.

7 Challenges in the future of work

Future of Work: ETF Study Reveals 7 Challenges

The way we interact with each other, the technologies we use to do so, and even the content of our daily work have shifted significantly for many people. To better understand what skills will be needed in the future, the European Training Foundation (ETF) has compiled several studies under the title "Changing Skills Demand in the Countries Neighboring the European Union." The report begins with an overview of global trends affecting labor markets and demand for workers around the world. 

We would like to outline these trends below. The ETF report refers to seven global trends that will shape the world's labor markets and demand for labor: 

1. Job Destruction through Automation 

2. Changed Tasks for existing Professions 

3. Job Polarization: Decline of middle-skill jobs versus higher- and lower-skill jobs (also known as "hollowing-out")

4. Emergence of new Job Profiles

5. Stratification or Segmentation of Knowledge Work 

6. Increase in Non-Standard Employment - e.g., temporary work, self-employment, part-time work, etc. 

7. Erosion of Standard Employment Benefits

Job destruction trough automation

1. Job Destruction Through Automation 

The automation of work processes - whether through RPA, iPaaS and the like - usually enjoys a bad reputation, as many people see this technological development as the loss of their work to soulless robots. It should be clear that repetitive jobs in particular will be lost, but is advancing automation bad for people across the board?

One thing seems clear: The nature of the task plays a major role in automation. "Routine tasks, both cognitive and manual, are increasingly being automated, making some tasks obsolete (accountants, cashiers, some clerical jobs, etc.)," the report says. 

Bill Jensen, author of the book "The Day Tomorrow Said No," takes a critical view of the development. The costs of the "new future" are too high, he says, and the robotization of the working world harbors major risks that are not being discussed in this way in corporate boardrooms. 

In response to this more critical view, other voices are highlighting the positive aspects of automation. "Automation may be seen as a means of augmenting the modern worker rather than replacing them," says Sagi Eliyahu, CEO of Tonkean, a provider of AI-based solutions for business operations. "We have a choice in how we use automation - whether we use it for good and create a better future of work for all of us, or just for profit and the benefit of a few - that remains our choice.

Changed Tasks For Existing Professions

2. Changed Tasks For Existing Professions 

Increasing automation is leading to the revision or redefinition of job descriptions. One example would be energy-saving technologies on construction sites; with digital technologies, workers increasingly supplement or supervise machines. Bank tellers now need more sales skills - routine bureaucratic tasks are taking a back seat.  

An analysis of occupations in the EU-28 member states reveals a gradual decline in physical tasks (both strength and dexterity) and repetitive computer tasks. Intellectual and social tasks are on the rise. The bottom line is that automation and technological change are leading to a decline in low-wage jobs. This contrasts with an increase in the demand for jobs that require complex skills and a high level of analytical competence. Retraining and upskilling help here to avoid being "automated away." 

"Companies have (...) a responsibility to their employees to train or even retrain them when necessary."

"While technology is making some jobs redundant, it's also creating a whole new set of technical and digital specializations," says Adrian Overall, CEO of Cloud Stratex, a technology company that advises blue-chip companies. "Companies therefore have a responsibility to their employees to upskill or even retrain them when necessary. That doesn't mean paying lip service to digital training, but making it a priority in the corporate strategy.

Of course, not all people can simply be retrained. As Richard David Precht noted in a recent podcast at Online Marketing Rockstars, it's not a simple calculation where all the people who lose their jobs will now take on the more complex activities. 

Job Polarization 

3. Job Polarization 

This is the decline of middle-skill jobs relative to higher- and lower-skill jobs (also known as "hollowing-out"). Automation and offshoring are commonly blamed for this. Such jobs typically employ middle-skilled people without college degrees, especially in manufacturing, but also, for example, secretaries, cashiers, bookkeepers, and clerical workers. 

If you count yourself in one of these groups, your prospects seem to be getting worse. Highly qualified occupations will account for about four out of five new job openings in the future. There are increases in managers and highly skilled professionals, as well as in sales, security, cleaning, catering, and nursing. It is therefore very likely that people with intermediate qualifications will be more likely to join the low-wage sector. 

"The skills gap continues to widen in many industries," says Dirck Schou, CEO and co-founder of software company Taqtile. "Nearly a quarter of industrial workers are 55 or older, and they're retiring faster than new workers are coming in to replace them." 

The Emergence Of New Job Profiles

4. The Emergence Of New Job Profiles

New jobs are mainly associated with activities made possible by new technologies. For example, specialists who can handle large amounts of data from the network are often sought. They could be called Big Data specialists, database managers, data scientists or data analysts. New specialized subfields of computer science include cloud computing, robotics, intelligent automation, and cognitive computing engineering.  

"New technologies have enormously reduced the transaction costs of production, communication and coordination on a global scale," says Francesca Rosso, labor market expert at ETF. "Mobile Internet, connectivity and cloud computing coupled with the data revolution. All of these developments have spawned a host of new jobs that are now available and can be performed anywhere. The new jobs are different from those of the past; they usually involve new tasks and new work arrangements.

5. The Stratification or Segmentation Of Knowledge Work 

Some call this "digital Taylorism. The application of digital software to white-collar work can be compared to mechanical Taylorism in factories a century ago. This often applies to jobs that do not depend on face-to-face interaction with customers. The segmentation of knowledge limits permission to think to executives and other high-level people. The result is the standardization of technical, managerial, and professional jobs. 

"Standardization brings segmentation that risks breaking the promise of education, jobs, and income."

"Standardization brings with it a segmentation that risks breaking the promise of education, work and income that has long been a human capital bargain," said Ummuhan Bardak, senior labor market and migration specialist at ETF. "In the words of Phillip Brown, 'In this new age, can learning still be synonymous with earning?'

"In a knowledge worker economy, does necessary work that doesn't require decision-making need to be done by one person, and if not, what other ways are there to get it done? " This is the question posed by Albert Rees, SVP Head of Business Consulting at EPAM Systems, Inc. a company specializing in product development, digital platform engineering and digital and product design. 

The Rise Of Non-Standard Employment

6. The Rise Of Non-Standard Employment 

These include temporary work, self-employment, part-time work and various other forms of work. Independent contractors are becoming more common, but they are not all the same. With globalization, diversified employment relationships have long been on the rise. Some are related to new business models in the digital economy. 

"While the gig economy was already booming, the pandemic has caused gig work to skyrocket as companies turn to gig workers:in as a cost-effective alternative to investing in full-time employees," said Shaun Price, director of client acquisition at MitoQ. "The rise of remote work has also made gig work more attractive to both employers and employees, as more companies realize that freelancers can be a viable option for their business, and more employees realize that they crave a work schedule outside of the standard 9-to-5.

Info: The gig economy describes a part of the labor market in which small to medium-sized jobs are given to the self-employed, freelancers or marginally employed.

Erosion Of Standard Employment Benefits

7. Erosion Of Standard Employment Benefits 

Changes in employment patterns have proportionately reduced the share of good, permanent, full-time jobs. In parallel, most employment-related benefits have declined. The growing number of independent contractors and entrepreneurs are responsible for their own working hours, social security and training. 

"Non-standard employment is becoming more prevalent," says Mandy Watson, managing director of Ambitions Personnel, a staffing firm. "It's fueled by uncertainty in the economy, which is exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. Some are simply opting for this type of work because it offers flexibility and the ability to work how and when you want, without being tied to a standard employment contract. Others turn to this type of work in a time of desperate need, raising moral questions about the protection of these workers.

Future Of Work: Conclusions 

No one size fits all. Trends may be universal, but their impact varies from country to country and depends on a number of factors. These include the political, economic, legal and institutional systems.

Other defining elements include:

1. The Political Leadership

2. The Business Climate

3. Labor Relations

4. The Ability to Innovate

5. Technological Progress

6. Human Resources

7. The Structure

8. The Age of the Workforce

9. Labor Costs

10. The Participation of Employees in Strategic Decisions

New skills are needed to address these trends. Education levels have improved dramatically almost everywhere, but skills gaps remain. Employers often complain that they can't find the right people. As countries move toward the future, the question is what kind of future they want. This often lies between their vision, level of socioeconomic development, and human capital.

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