The Future of Work research centre recently hosted Emerging Futures: Empowering Youth in a Changing World of Work, a one-day workshop exploring the challenges and opportunities facing young people. In this post, Professor Juani Swart explores the factors poised to affect our careers.

It is important to understand how to navigate the future of work – be that for youth employment, or those at the early, mid or even late stage of their career. The one thing that is certain is that the landscape of opportunities has changed. There is no longer the notion of the single career in an organisation with clear boundaries. As a society, we have moved from being islands to being an ecosystem.

Think about a simple purchase you have made today from any provider: this involves multiple careers across multiple stakeholders that may all commit either to their own careers, their teams or their vision of the future.

Within this we need to ask where we are positioned along a continuum of intra-organisational work (how you would work in the future across project teams), inter-organisational careers (how you would work with your wider professional networks to start new projects) or trans-organisational work (how you may work independently with a constellation of experts).

The important point here is that we would all have to live with liminality, betwixt and between our past and our future, to carve out how future careers may look. This leads to the need to consider the three dimensions of navigating these pathways.


Technological mediation

How will technological advancement and particularly artificial intelligence impact on skills? As we consider youth employment, it is important to think about how we re-draw knowledge boundaries.

What should we study? How should we approach professional roles? What would the most valuable of occupations of the future be? Drawing on emotions, tacit knowledge and skills that cannot be coded and reproduced will likely be central.


Impermanence and adaptation

How fleeting and temporal will work engagement be in the future? Here we need to consider outsourcing, productivity and cost of employment. It will no longer be within the strategic control of a single organisation to decide how skills are employed or redeployed, but it will be within the ecosystem’s control of how human capital is developed and configured.


Shared governance

Our future pathways of work – at whatever stage of our career – will depend on an ecosystem of organisations, governments and alternative pathways enabled by technology.

Take, for example, working across national, organisational and technological boundaries. Within all of these scenarios it is clear that the impetus of the changing landscape of work has an impact on shared governance rather than singular organisational policy.

Linked to the these emerging pathways is the continuation of hybrid working – where we all assume and expect the new dawn of freedom around work to continue – challenging how we work, who we work for and whom we work with.

Posted in: Economy, Employers, Entrepreneurs, Future of Work, Human Resources, Technology, Wellbeing

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