The iPhone was launched ten years ago this month and it, along with its siblings (like the iPad I’m writing this article on) and its various competitors, have changed the way we work and live.  If you told me when I started my career in the employment sector back in the days when we faxed documents to clients and paid couriers to take parcels of resumes to clients a few suburbs away, that I’d be able to do all this from my mobile phone, I would have looked at you like you’d just landed from Mars.  Yet here we are.

A phone isn’t a phone

In many ways, we have become totally reliant on the technology of today to function.  After being awoken by our smartphone alarm, to electronically ordering our coffee at our local cafe, to scrolling through emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the other communication apps, to video calling our colleagues in another city (or country), all from the convenience of our handheld device, the way we go about our day is vastly different to a decade ago.

A recent visit to my mum really highlighted how things have changed.  Mum is a technophobe but someone told her to buy a smartphone, so now she has a very snazzy device with amazing capability.  However, she might as well have an early model Nokia (I believe they’re coming back) because she uses her phone for two purposes only… to make calls and to send SMS messages.  Can you believe it?  She uses the phone to call people… crazy!

Technology and jobs

But this visit got me thinking how many of us have access to technology but like my mum, we don’t take full advantage of it, particularly at work.  Rather than being scared of technology or the idea of losing our jobs to robots, I say let’s embrace it and adapt our skills to get better at what we do.  A recent McKinsey Global Institute study found “that about 60 percent of all occupations have at least 30 percent of activities that are technically automatable based on currently demonstrated technologies.  This means that most occupations will change, and more people will have to work with technology”.  The opportunities associated with this are tremendous and exciting, but it means that being a technophobe at work will be no excuse. Those who refuse to up-skill, learn and try new things will be left behind as the world of work transitions away from labour based employment to technology-based employment.                                 businessman-modern-communication

Companies are changing

Current examples of technology-based employment are absorbing my attention at work right now.  I’m recruiting for a range of start-up businesses and also for long established companies who are transitioning into the digital/technology age from more traditional approaches.

Newer companies I’m dealing with include start-ups in digital security, advisory specialists using data analytics for smarter decision making and electronic documentation companies.  Those adapting their business models to remain relevant and competitive include a traditional hard copy printing firm who now offer a more holistic service including print, email, SMS, video and social media marketing. Another client is adding to its manual typed transcription services to include audio, video and virtual reality technologies.

Because of these changes, the types of people these companies are hiring is changing as well.  They are seeking candidates with skills in data analytics, software development and testing, data extraction for report generation, business analysis/requirements gathering and project management.

Technology is permeating every industry and this has a direct impact on the skills required to succeed now and into the future.  Property companies are looking to differentiate by offering ‘smart buildings’ with energy efficient technologies, high-speed internet connectivity and the like.  Mining companies are relying on automated vehicles and equipment with sensors to monitor all types of real-time data.  Hospitals are relying on electronic patient information and high tech surgical equipment.  Even McDonald’s is encouraging customers to order via a touch screen rather than over the counter.

And only last week, news reports spoke of the introduction of Australia’s cyber warfare unit and the need to hire new technology security skills into the Defence Force and the challenges in doing this.

Are you adapting?

Take a look around your workplace and consider the impact technology is having. We don’t know what the next game-changing technology will be, but like the iPhone has changed so much in such a short time, there is no doubt this trend of change and technology will continue and with it, the skills demanded in the employment sector will change.  So we all need to keep evolving to ensure we are employable and relevant to the demands of the market.  I have no doubt there will be opportunities for stimulating work in the future but they will be different from today.  What are you doing to ensure you have the necessary transferable skills?

Ben Walsh – General Manager, Recruitment

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