We are seeing robots do the work of humans in dispensing prescription drugs, researching judgements and case law, and analysing insurance claims

Research from multiple sources confirms that workplace change, largely driven by AI and automation, will result in new categories of jobs emerging, while others will partly or wholly disappear, said Michelle Gibbings, a global workplace expert.

The 2017 McKinsey Global Institute report found that almost half of today’s available work activities have the potential to be automated. The analysis, which surveyed 46 countries representing about 80% of the global workforce, found that fewer than 5% of occupations could be fully automated using currently available technology. However, about 60% of occupations have at least 30% of activities that could be automated. The report concluded that most occupations will change in some way.

Already we are seeing robots do the work of humans in dispensing prescription drugs, researching judgements and case law, and analysing insurance claims – just to name a few, said Michelle Gibbings, who is the author of Step Up, Career Leap and the forthcoming book Bad Boss.

“As a result, it makes more sense to focus on what you can do to future proof your career because your career is more than just a product to be commoditised, and you certainly don’t want to become obsolete,” she said.

Seek new opportunities

What everyone agrees on is the current wave of change is creating new opportunities with new professions appearing. It’s also shifting the emphasis on skills and capabilities. This digital and automated world prizes curiosity, creativity, problem-solving, initiative, adaptability and EQ. As well, the fastest growing occupations will also need a higher level of cognitive skills in those areas and 30–40% of jobs will require explicit social-emotional skills. Those so-called soft skills are no longer a nice to have, but imperative.

Find your learning edge

Continued career success requires a constant desire to learn so you stay relevant in your profession. You can’t just wait for someone to tell you what you need to learn. You need to be abreast of the latest thinking and ideas from your profession, and also from complementary professions. This requires a desire and willingness to go beyond the norm and what feels comfortable, to learn new things and experiment with the unknown.

Know your value proposition

Being future-ready requires you to deliberately construct and design your career. It’s being open to the inevitable change that is coming down the pipeline by understanding what it means for you and being ready for it. That’s only possible if you are aware of your unique value proposition and what you stand for.

Everyone brings certain skills and ways of operating to the work they do, said Michelle Gibbings.

“Think of it as your unique selling proposition. It’s the value you deliver through the work you do, and it’s how you engage and lead. It’s what makes you stand out from everyone else,” she said.

“However, what’s valued by organisations changes over time. It’s therefore essential to be able to clearly articulate that value in a way that is meaningful, current and targeted. You want to be able to explain how you can help an organisation, business or client achieve their objectives, and to demonstrate that you are ready and equipped for the future.”

It was the legendary actress, Mae West, who said, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

“When it comes to your career, doing it right doesn’t mean there is only one way or one path to follow. It’s about being proactive and deliberate about the choices you make, so you lead your career in the way you want it to be led,” said Michelle Gibbings, who works with global leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work.