Navigating the Tight Job Market of Our Automated Future

You’ve read that robots, automation and artificial intelligence are likely to displace millions of workers in the coming ten to 20 years.  So if you or someone you care about wants to stay ahead of that curve, what skills would you need to make you an ideal worker in that automated future?

Recently, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey of technologists, scholars, strategic thinkers and education leaders, asking them for insight into the future of the workplace.  70% said they envisioned new educational and training programs that would quickly and flexibly identify new skills that were needed in the marketplace and adapt over and over again to provide training in whatever is needed.  So instead of people having to anticipate what the job market will need (foreseeing the future is never an easy task), they will be able to seek out training facilities that are connected with corporations around the world who are sending them real-time data on their employment needs.  Some of the respondents imagine that these training facilities will replace our current system of stodgy colleges and universities, which are very slow to adapt to changing needs in the workplace.

One interesting theme that popped up again and again was training that would teach people how to become lifelong learners—so they could reenter these flexible, ever-adjusting jobs programs again and again through a multi-career path.  Another theme was the emergence of alternative credentialing systems that would vouch for the skills that people have acquired through their training.

Some respondents chose to focus their responses on figuring out the human talents that would be hardest for machines and automation to duplicate.  Among the most popular talents cited: creativity, collaborative activity, abstract and systems thinking, complex communication and the ability to thrive in creative environments.  Others: the ability to effectively network, manage public relations, display intercultural sensitivity and marketing, which all require social and emotional intelligence.

Roughly a third of the respondents doubted that training platforms would emerge fast enough to help today’s workers, and some doubted that, even if we did have retraining facilities in place, today’s workers would recognize the need for retraining, and instead simply demand their old jobs back.

About the Author: Bob Veres has been a commentator, author and consultant in the financial services industry for more than 20 years.  Over his 20-year career in the financial services world, Mr. Veres has worked as editor of Financial Planning magazine; as a contributing editor to the Journal of Financial Planning; as a columnist and editor-at-large of Dow Jones Investment Advisor magazine; and as editor of Morningstar’s advisor web site:

Mr. Veres has been named one of the most influential people in the financial planning profession by Investment Advisor magazine and Financial Planning magazine, was granted the NAPFA Special Achievement Award by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, and most recently the Heart of Financial Planning Distinguished Service Award from the Denver-based Financial Planning Association. 



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