The face of work has changed, thanks to the technological revolution. It's caused a flood of advances, and the currents don't show any signs of slowing down. These developments have increased productivity, but many workers are wondering: Will the future of work consist mainly of automation?
In 2020, a survey by consulting firm Kelly Services revealed that four in 10 Singaporeans feared that artificial intelligence (AI) and automation would steal their jobs. However, 57% believed that their company needed them to stay relevant, while 58% stated they could help increase the company's bottom line.
The future of work is a natural part of the job market cycle. In the late 1900s, computerisation and automation prompted a rapid skills upgrade among workers after computers transformed the labour market
The "future of work" concept projects how jobs will evolve according to technological, generational, and social shifts. Those shifts are caused by data and AI in the present era.
The World Economic Forum: The Future of Jobs 2023 Report asserts that technology adoption is the primary driver of business transformations. Besides AI and automation, macrotrends (including the green transition and climate change adaptation), ESG (environmental, social, and governance) standards, and supply chain localisation are other prompters of job growth.
The importance of preparing for future jobs can be summed up in one word: relevance.
With technology at the centre of business transformations, businesses predict that 44% of workers’ core skills will experience radical changes.
Forget about legacy programmes and on-site skills and paper filing. Based on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) top future skills, you need to practise your creativeandanalytical thinking, tech literacy, curiosity, lifelong learning, resilience, flexibility, and agility.
Knowing all these, are you equipped to thrive in the workforce of tomorrow?
If you're not, you can be! Continue reading this article to help you understand the changing job market and stay professionally competitive. This article will help you learn about:
Automation technology has been creating compelling changes in the labour and consumer markets. Now, algorithms for customer-service inquiries, self-ordering kiosks, email marketing software, machines that read X-rays, and hospital robots that deliver medicines and offer real-time virtual consultations with your doctor are no longer uncommon.
In Workato and SGTech's State of Digital Technology report, 83% of Singaporean enterprises have already adopted at least one digital automation solution, while eight out of 10 of those who haven't, want to start by 2023.
In Singapore alone, more companies have turned to technological solutions to increase efficiency and productivity. In Deloitte's report on the readiness of Asia Pacific for workplace automation, Singapore has ranked second in preparedness and is considered the least at risk.
As Asia’s tech capital, the country is home to 59% of multinational tech companies’ Asian regional offices. It is one of the most technologically advanced Information and Communications Technology (ICT) markets globally. These efforts have created a demand for professionals in this field. Singaporeans in digitalisation, AI, and data constantly receive job offers every year.
McKinsey's paper on " Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained: Workforce Transitions In A Time Of Automation " predicts that 24% of work activities in Singapore will become automated by 2023. With manual work quickly being outdated and roles becoming more flexible, Singaporeans can focus on high-value tasks.Tech Wiresays many Singaporeans are responding to this by joining the gig economy.
One of the most obvious perks of automation is how much it creates the ideal conditions for remote work. While remote work didn't start easily for many workers a few years ago, its level of flexibility has become a crucial factor in this global outsourcing economy and among job seekers. According to JobStreet's Decoding Global Talent report, 74% of Singaporean job seekers prefer a hybrid or location-independent job, which has become the new convention.
Thanks to chatbots, virtual assistants, data analysis, and more, automation streamlines traditional processes, improving productivity, collaboration, security, and time management.
A PwC survey supports the claim that Singaporeans are anxious about how technology will affect their jobs. PwC's Fang Eu-Lin pointed out: "With technology, roles that are more process-driven are more at risk of being displaced, and individuals doing these roles must prepare for their 'version 2.0' role. For example, robotic process automation is becoming more commonplace, driving greater efficiency in highly repetitive tasks.”
On the brighter side, Fang Eu-Lin stressed that having the skills to maximise these new opportunities can help you future-proof your career to thrive in the marketplace.
Workato's survey revealed that 98% of their 133 respondents experienced positive results from digital automation, reporting reduced hours of manual work, real-time visibility of data and insights, increased sales leads, and improved employee experience.
AI continues to play a significant role in the future of work. As AI technologies evolve, businesses will continue to experience their potential in automating routine tasks and providing valuable analysis and information that support decision-making.
In a Singaporean Institute of Management paper, the chief human resource officer of IT firm Mphasis Srikanth Karra says that roles with repetitive tasks will likely get displaced. Meanwhile, an Accenture study predicts AI will streamline jobs with language tasks, since these account for "62% of the total time employees work."
Some jobs that might need to pivot during the digital tech revolution include:
In a World Economic Forum (WEF) interview, Erik Brynjolfsson, Professor at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centred AI, shared that he thinks the future should reimagine and restructure work roles. AI should maximise technological advancements and not be promoted as a complete replacement for human workers.
“It’s clear that while AI is very powerful at [the] human level or even superhuman level for many tasks, there are many other things where humans continue to have a big advantage, and that's going to continue to be true for quite some time,” said Brynjolfsson. “ I don't predict any sort of a job apocalypse or mass unemployment, but I do think there's going to be [a] massive restructuring of work as AI starts doing more tasks that previously were only done by humans."
The Accenture study reiterated a similar idea, saying humans are the heart of AI's success. Companies should reskill and upskill to avoid being left behind. The first step would be to assess how AI and automation can improve existing processes, and then figure out where to reskill from there.
These are the jobs that would benefit most from AI:
Moreover, AI will likely spawn new roles or higher demand in established roles, such as:
WEF has reported that extensive job growth will occur in the education, agriculture, digital commerce, and trade industries. Technology-related roles cover most of the fastest-growing jobs, led by AI and machine learning specialists, sustainability specialists, business intelligence analysts, and information security analysts.
Additionally, the shift towards sustainability and increasing awareness of environmental issues will lead to new job opportunities, such as:
These changes are predicted to open approximately one million jobs across 45 economies.
In Singapore, Monetary Authority managing director Ravi Menon shared that about 1,700 tech roles have opened in Singapore – 30% of which are software engineers. The fintech industry has also experienced a significant rise in job opportunities since 2020, creating 2,500 to 3,500 new jobs annually.
Growing concerns over climate change and sustainability push companies and governments to focus on creating sustainable business practices and reducing their carbon footprint. The future job market will have a high demand for individuals with the skills and knowledge to help organisations meet their sustainability goals.
The increasing focus on health and wellness will create a demand for jobs in areas such as personal fitness, nutrition, and mental health. Furthermore, the continuous use and increased interest in mobile devices will open more doors for professionals skilled in social media marketing, content creation, and influencer marketing.
Changes in population demographics, such as ageing populations, will demand an increase in healthcare professionals, caregivers, and other services that cater to the elderly. On the other hand, shifting birth rates may decrease the need for professionals that cater to child care or education.
The WEF reports that 60% of workers will require additional training to keep up with the changing times. Analytical thinking is the most crucial skill to learn, while the demand for creative thinking is perceived to rise by 73% for future careers.
The organisation recommends training in the following hard and soft skills:
Continue reading to see how training has changed in the face of digitisation and AI.
With the labour market experiencing reinvention, a focus on better education and training can help equip you for future careers.
"Success with generative AI requires equal attention on people and training as it does on technology," Accenture recommends. "[It] means building talent in technical competencies like AI engineering and enterprise architecture and training people across the organisation to work effectively with AI-infused processes."
Harvard professor David Deming agrees. However, he believes that the kind of training has to adapt, as well.“The systems that connect educational institutions and the labour market were built for a different era when technology was not available to customise support for people and link them directly using artificial intelligence,” he said in a Harvard Kennedy School article.
According toFortune, on-the-job learning is the best way to upskill employees for AI. Showing them the capabilities of chatbots, for example, could inspire them to see the tech's potential. Instead of a general introduction to AI, role-specific learning modules are also much more effective.
New technology will always make outdated ones antiquated, from cell phones to jobs. Adopting the mindset that learning never ends is the first step to staying relevant, whatever the job market demands.
Continuous learning allows you to sharpen your skill set, thus maintaining your usefulness and strengthening your commitment to your industry and career.
Here are five tips to help you adopt a lifelong learning stance:
Maximise the prevalence of digital tools and platforms in the workplace. Instead of seeing technology as having a negative impact, focus on using it as an implement that empowers you in the workplace.
Explore different tech tools to enhance your productivity, gain and provide better communication, improve your data analysis and problem-solving skills, and inspire you to get more creative. Being digitally savvy will give you leverage to stay relevant and competitive in the job market.
Staying ahead means continually improving your skills and knowledge amid a rapidly changing world. Cultivating a growth mindset allows you to develop new skills, embrace and overcome obstacles, adapt to changes, seek new opportunities, and remain resilient amid adversity.
When your employers see you as a lifelong learner, you show them you are an adaptable and valuable asset, committed to growing and innovating with the company.
Determine your skill set and the aptitudes you need in your field. Invest in learning those skills through online courses, certifications, workshops, and on-the-job training. Doing so will boost your confidence and increase your value in the job market, paving the way for more opportunities for career advancement and increasing your job stability and security.
According to SEEK, these are the opportunities you can use to upskill :
While technology and automation may put certain jobs at risk of becoming obsolete, they will also create an entirely new set of roles. By investing in reskilling as early as now, you will increase your chances of advancing and securing employment in the future.
Practise brainstorming, dive into new experiences, collaborate with others, challenge assumptions, read and learn, experiment, and take risks. AI will only support creativity and innovation – not replace them – so it's beneficial to train yourself in these soft skills.
In his professional life, Stanley Teo, 50, has shifted from human resources to IT to public service to banking. He explains that upskilling is "more of a state of mind."
In an opinion piece in theStraits Times,Tay Hong Yi notes that reskilling success stories and selling re-training "in bits" are the best ways to encourage a continuous learning mindset in Singaporeans – many of whom are open but daunted at the prospect of seemingly starting over.
"Telling stories of upskilling as something many workers are doing, via courses that expand or deepen skill sets even modestly, can be more motivating and helpful than nagging workers about abstract concepts such as the future economy and economic competitiveness," he writes.
Regardless of how you learn, a passion for continuous learning has numerous benefits, including fuelling your motivations, adding variety to your daily tasks, boosting your network, and future-proofing your career.
Technology can’t replace all skills, especially soft skills. Harvard professor David Deming stressed that although public attention is leaning towards STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) skills, there is a high demand from employers to hire workers who possess a strong set of soft skills.
Below are soft skills employers value. Learn to develop them, if you don’t have them already. They can help you future-proof your career.
Dependability and accountability go hand in hand. It helps you meet deadlines, become accountable to complete tasks to the best of your ability, and more. Being reliable will never go out of style.
Problem-solving is the ability to identify, analyse, and solve problems effectively and logically. This skill is pivotal in future jobs as you will often be required to adapt to new situations and technologies, and continuously find innovations to emerging issues.
With all these changes, working in cross-functional teams, or collaborating with people from different departments, is inevitable. Adaptability helps you adjust to new people, work processes, skills, and demands.
Creativity will be indispensable in future jobs, from developing new products, services, and solutions to meeting changing consumer demands. It helps you think outside the box and come up with new ideas and approaches.
Supports, implements, creates, and develops programs that focus on environmental improvement and long-term sustainability strategies that are environmentally conscious and promote financial efficiency
Any change brings about its own set of challenges. Tan Kok Yam, Chief Executive of SkillsFuture Singapore, said in an interview for a World Economic Forum podcast that the changes in social technology and business models call for a renaissance. Individual workers, the economy, and society as a whole must think: "How then do I acquire new skills to be relevant, to overcome challenges, to continue to seize growth opportunities?”
Correspondingly, this will promote a skills-first approach to work that will highlight job seekers’ talents and competencies rather than focusing on academic backgrounds and work history.
While this poses a challenge to white-collar and blue-collar workers, it can lead to higher job satisfaction and engagement. It can also create a more diverse and inclusive workplace as well as agile and adaptive employees.
The jobs of the future will hopefully see an increase in diversity and inclusion, as research reveals that the Gen Z population is more likely to reject companies that lack diverse leadership.
Recent studies have also demonstrated the importance of women in the boardroom. Companies with women board directors have reached a profit margin of 16%, 10 times higher than a boardroom without women.
Preparing for the jobs of the future is pivotal to staying competitive in the job market and future-proofing your career. With advancements in technology and automation, including the rise of AI in the workplace, upskilling and reskilling are crucial to stay relevant and adapt to the changes.
While not all jobs are at risk, especially those that require cognitive and creative thinking, these changes emphasise the importance of soft skills, which transcend time, industries, and trends. With adaptability and an inclination towards lifelong learning, you can be ready for the future of work.
You’re ready for the jobs of the future! To continue learning ways to navigate the current job market, visit the Career Advice page. Study up on the current needs of your industry by visiting our Explore Careers page. Don’t forget to download the JobStreet app on Google Play and the App Store.