When I was 15, I was given a quiz to suggest types of career that might suit.
Mine came back telling me to consider being a lumberjack.
I’m pretty sure there were no complicated algorithms underlying this particular analysis. To be fair, I’d probably also applied some sarcasm to my responses.
I was a sport mad, party mad, outdoor loving teenager. My closest connection to curated forests was that my favourite subject was Geography.
Fast forward a few decades and I find myself a “Head of Digital Acceleration”.
Of course, the career forecasting tools of the mid 1980s had no way of knowing this type of role would ever exist. But via a Geography degree, a chartered accounting course, some years in financial services and technology, here I am.
So with that in mind – what on earth should I tell the five teenage children in my blended family to expect of their careers in the next few decades??
Are machines taking over our current jobs? Do we all need to learn electrical engineering, robotics and coding to earn a living in the future?
Much has been written recently on this topic – of course the skills required in 2018 have changed enormously since 1985, whilst the educational curriculum has struggled to keep pace. The companies that will leap ahead in the next few years will be those who can combine the best of both humans and machines – by leveraging what both are good at and ensuring the best possible mix in the middle ground.
I recently read Human + Machine – Reimagining Work in the Age of AI, which provides a framework for success summarised as MELDS: Mindset, Experimentation, Leadership, Data and Skills.
Importantly, we have to start with Mindset– it’s not enough just to digitise what we have – we actually need tore-imagine our work around this “middle ground” where human and machine skills meet. In this space, people adjust, improve, maintain and manage artificial intelligence (AI), while the machines add “superpowers” to human ability by amplifying and repeating tasks.
This middle ground is the space in which new careers will flourish – and the exciting part is that it’s not all about coding. For example, linguists and poets are vital in training machines carrying out natural language processing and sentiment analysis.
So what am I telling my kids? Sure, you need a basic understanding of technology – even if only as a user. But above all, cultivate a curious, learning mindset – and follow your passion.
Business, even digital business, is still about people at its heart – but we’d all like superpowers if they’re available!
Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI, James H. Wilson & Paul Daugherty, 2018