Introducing your new colleague – Bob, the robot

September 15, 20141:50 pm1893 views
Introducing your new colleague – Bob, the robot
Introducing your new colleague - Bob, the robot

According to the study “The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerization?” by Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology, 47% of the jobs in the US will be automated. So look around your office; 47% of the people holding those jobs would be gone. Hopefully these are the annoying people and you don’t belong to any of them.

Like it or not, that is going to be the new reality. Just like when the Gen Y and Millennials are introduced to the workforce. And you know it’s coming.

So much has been written about the perils of managing the new generation that I’m quite certain some frustrated robotic trained inventor would go,”Maybe I should just replace them with robots!”

But that’s another story for another day. What I like you to think about is to prepare for that 47% situation in 20 years’ time. Assuming we would probably be living and working till we are in our seventies by then, I’m talking about those born between 1934 and 2004. That’s a wide range of people fighting for 47% less jobs.

Now I know some of you might simply dismiss this prediction. It’s not going to happen to my unique industry/function/role. I’m pretty certain that is what went on the minds of those before they got displaced during the dot-com, structural changes, recession, etc.

Truth is times are evolving quicker than you can execute your plans. You are going to be caught like a fish in the dark if you don’t at least prepare yourself.

Need more convincing? In 2010, local restaurant Ruyi has already experimented with a Robot Wok to automate the rice frying process. And just this year Singapore Changi Airport is pilot testing fully automated robotic cleaning machines that pilot themselves using sonar. If robots can replace a human being physical movement, it wouldn’t be tough to replace those that only require brain power.

Throughout my time as a recruiter, I’ve seen many displaced job seekers. They are usually lost (never been to job interviews for past decade), disgruntled (unable to accept the reality that their industry is gone), and not having the skill sets required by modern times.

It’s not a pretty sight. Many had, during the good times, overindulged and overcommitted. The ax will not aim less accurately at the more vulnerable when it falls. You have to start creating that transition cushion and make sure it is as thick as possible.

So what can you do differently today to better prepare for 2034? My suggestions are really simple, and they are based on common habits of successful people around the world.

  1. Pick up a book and read – Mark Cuban spends 3 hours daily reading. Bill Gates has a list of books he read and reviewed. Reading engages the mind in ways the TV or YouTube videos couldn’t as you have no bandwidth to localise the information download. It doesn’t matter what books they are. A regular reading habit will only serve to expand your knowledge and universe. So start reading a chapter a day.
  2. Become a global nomad – Industries rise and fall quickly nowadays but a sunset industry in Singapore might be a sun rising one in Myanmar. If there are simply no further opportunities in your home country and you just can’t see ways to reinvent yourself, bring your skills somewhere else that will appreciate them. Just like how basketball players ply their trade in Europe if they can’t make it into the NBA.
  3. Gain publicity – you can write blogs about your profession, nominate yourself for industry awards, secure media interviews, or all of the above. By having yourself as a search result in Google, it can only be a good thing. It’s time-consuming but well worth the effort. Start by writing some opinion piece and grow it from there.

I’m very certain a huge percentage of people won’t do either or any of the above for whatsoever reasons. This gives you an even better motivation to do so since it’s so much easier to outrun someone who is standing still.

Be in front of the pack and I guarantee the ax will miss you when it falls.


Article contributed by Adrian Tan – Managing Director of RecruitPlus Consulting Pte Ltd.

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