How will underrepresented individuals be impacted by the changes in the work environment and the way people work in the future?
The idea of the “future of work” may be a phrase that is fairly new but a concept that has been around since modernity, technology and industrialization began to change and shape the workforce. The ways in which we work as constantly shifting, from the advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning to globalism and the pace of exchange in markets around the world.
Where it concerns underrepresented groups, the future of work can impact job sectors that have historically hired more underrepresented professionals such as hospitality, food and beverage and customer service. There are considerations to be made and trends to watch that help these groups prepare for changes.
Technological capabilities both within companies and through the products and services they use to conduct business have the power to positively or negatively affect hiring trends for years to come. Specifically, automation in the auto industry has eliminated many of the roles that in years past had supported African American communities through the country, while the growth of data use has created a need for engineers and other specialized jobs.
McKinsey took a look at the impact the future of work will have on African Americans. Their study found that by 2030 - just 10 years - the big picture on jobs for Blacks (particularly men, younger workers age 18-25, and those without college degrees) “may worsen dramatically” due to geographical, economic and other factors.
The International Monetary Fund conducted a study on the future of work, finding that women face an 11 percent risk of losing their job due to automation, compared to men’s 9 percent, with an estimated 26 million women across 30 countries at “high risk of being displaced by technology” in the next 20 years.
While the research may disheartening, there remains time for professionals to create and educate themselves as a way of insulating their livelihood against automation and other facets of the future of work.
Education that focuses on the ways humans perform that cannot be replicated by machines - decision-making, skills such as management and leadership - should be at the center of one’s professional development. The shift will require training and skills sharing that will help one remain competitive.
Ensuring that rural communities as well as lower economic sectors of developed regions have equal access to digital tools and Internet access is key to bridging the digital divide. While strides have been made in creating access, there remains a difference of 16 percentage points between rural and suburban communities when measuring access to broadband at home (63 percent compared to 79 percent). Additionally, according to the same Pew report, rural residents go online less frequently than urban or suburban people, which may translate to less opportunity for online training. Investment in in-person training in these communities can prepare them for what the workplace will look like in the coming years.
How we work will also be different, with decentralized offices, remote work and “gig economy” exerting considerable influence. Technology can help keep employees connected through chat, video conferencing and real-time sharing, but it will also require leaders to be more thoughtful about ensuring teams create in-person, company-sponsored facetime opportunities. The gig economy gives workers freedom to create their schedules while creating efficiencies for customers who are strapped for time themselves by delivering goods and services to where they are. As this group of contract workers expands, it will require carefully examining the balance between feeding a demand and exploitation of a sector of workers who are not guaranteed rights given to full-time employees.
As one can easily see by viewing trends and topics impacting the market, the future of work is here. You can shape the workplace by providing your feedback on underrepresented individuals current and previous employers as a member of the Kanarys community. Start your first review at www.kanarys.com.
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