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The future of work isn’t so much about where we work, but what we’ll be doing – and if we have the skills for a future workplace.

A glimpse of what our speakers are presenting at the 2022 Human Insights Conference!

You probably know that a computer can beat a GoMaster. You’ll have seen some truly astounding CGI and maybe even been unsure what is real and what is not. It would be surprising if you hadn’t heard of the Metaverse and you might have had a play with a VR set.

The list of amazing and impressive tech developments is long. As is the list of things we used to buy that we don’t anymore – think posting letters, getting film developed. Some have disappeared because other options have superseded them. Others because the fashion has past – who has a Teasmade any more? Some readers will be too young to even know what one is. But it’s pretty obvious that people used to have jobs making, selling and servicing those activities, but no more.

There’s no argument that the world is changing and people see confirmation of this all the time through news media, social media, movies and gaming.  And if that isn’t clue enough, an article in Fortune magazine quoted 40% of jobs being replaced by robots in the next 15 years. So you might think that people would recognise that there will be an impact on their jobs. And, if that is the case, what plans do they have to adapt?  In search of answers to these questions research by TRA on behalf of Skills Consulting Group investigated the future of work through the eyes of future workers and their employers and the results will be presented at next month’s conference.

Let’s pause and think about those future workers for a moment. Best estimates are that the Gen Z cohort will have 16-18 jobs across their working life. And if we peer further into the future workforce, think about a child born today with a life expectancy of over 100 years – how many careers might they have? Where does the responsibility lie for acquiring and honing the new skills they may need and what skills should employees and employers prioritise?

The research we’ll be sharing at the National conference exposes a huge gap between what people see happening vs what impact they think it will have on them. Meanwhile employers are more likely to see what’s coming but recognise a gap in both their plans and their ability to execute.

What is clear is that the transformation required is less about the specifics and more about mindsets. We’ve heard a lot over the last few years about the importance of a growth mindset whereas what is needed for an uncertain future is a life time leaning mindset.

Employers see a future where job descriptions are irrelevant as people simply work for an organisation in various roles, where CVs showing multiple and varied jobs are favoured, where there is specificity for transferable skills, where a portfolio of employers is a competitive advantage for both the employee and the employer.

How does that look for marketing and insights?  Many people argue that knowledge professions will be less likely to see a big impact, whereas one analysis identified market research as one of the 12 professions that will most likely be replaced by AI. We are surveying members of the Research Association to cast some light on that and to see if we differ from the employees in other industries in our survey data for Skills Consulting Group.

One hypothesis is that technology has already begun to impact how we collect data and is opening up so many opportunities that we are more likely to embrace change and actively engage and seek out reskilling.

An alternative hypothesis might be that our role in deeply understanding humans then turning that knowledge into actions that organisations can take to achieve their objectives is a skill that delivers a value layer sitting above the increasingly smart technology used to collect data, requiring little reskilling. Or will it?  What skills will your business need in 20 years time when today’s babies are in the workforce?

It’s a tough ask to plan that far ahead, but the rate of change means we do need to reframe how we plan for the future skills that will be needed and it’s going to have to be a progressive and transformative reskilling plan.

www.research.net/r/Research_Society_Future_of_Work

Presenters: Colleen Ryan & Arlene Galvez, TRA

See program day one: Human Insights Conference

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The Research Society is the peak body for research, insights and analytics professionals in Australia. It has a diverse membership of individuals at all levels of experience and seniority within agencies, consultancies, client-side organisations, the non-profit and government sectors, support services as well as institutions and the academic community. As well as over 2,000 individual members, the Research Society has 125+ company and client partners, with the number continuing to grow. The Research Society research professionals and company partners commit to and are regulated by the Research Society Code of Professional Behaviour.