There’s plenty of uncertainty these days about how to figure out what skills will be in demand in the future. Here’s how to stay relevant, no matter your job.
That kind of career trajectory might seem quaint today. From the rise of the gig economy to the impact of automation and AI, there’s plenty of uncertainty right now about how to plan for career progression and what skills will be in demand, or irrelevant, in a changing economy. The uncomfortable truth is we don’t know what the job market of the future will look like—only that it will look very different than it does today and it will change a lot more quickly than it used to. All this can create the impression that as workers we’re now at the mercy of forces well beyond our control.
I don’t buy it—not entirely. Change is nothing new. Though tenures at companies may have been longer in the past, roles were always evolving, demanding new skills to keep up. Even as technology spurs the economy in radically new directions, there are steps individuals can take to shape their careers and stay relevant.
But there is a twist. Future-proofing one’s career doesn’t just mean studying STEM, learning to code, or becoming a data scientist (although, for people with the aptitude for STEM, that is a good place to start). In fact, surviving and thriving in the economy of the future may come down to many of the old-school tactics that helped guide my career a generation ago.
It starts with a blueprint (and a personal board of advisors)
When I began my career, my senior managers helped me craft a master plan and my employer had a vested interest in helping me reach my career goals. By and large, most workers don’t have this luxury. Responsibility is almost solely on the individual to stay relevant in the face of a shifting economy. (Granted, companies like Amazon are investing millions in retraining their workers for the new AI economy, but as robotics and AI become widely adopted, companies’ bottom line may well trump loyalty.)