In 2015, I predicted that there would be no “street vendors at traffic lights in 10 years’ time.” Self-driving vehicles would bring an end to “speed cops, speed traps, tow trucks and panel beaters … taxi drivers … car parks at shopping centres.“
Today, many people are at risk of losing their jobs because they refuse to see that the future of work will change radically over the next couple of decades. If they won’t believe that it is so, they can’t do anything to respond to it.
We know that switchboard operators, typists and bus conductors who didn’t ‘upgrade’ their skills lost their jobs when technology made them redundant. The same is now happening to assembly line workers and miners. Automatable jobs like cashiers, bookkeepers and data capturers will be replaced by software. Chatbots using AI will be the demise of call centre agents.
We now know that autonomous shuttles could debut in Durban, Cape Town and Sandton during Transport Month this year.
To thrive in today’s innovation-driven economy, … in addition to foundational skills like literacy and numeracy, [workers] need competencies like collaboration, creativity and problem-solving
Adapt or die
But we have adapted to change in the past. In a 2014 article, I noted that the public has happily embraced technologies that didn’t exist just 20 years ago, like the world wide web and Google. So, we can continue to adapt. The question is: How?
Firstly, we need to realise that the next Industrial Revolution is already here. It is characterised by a technology-driven sharing economy.
Jeremy Rifkin notes that almost ubiquitous internet and renewable energy now makes it possible for us to produce essential data-driven information at almost no cost. But to achieve this, our existing infrastructure will have to be upgraded to smart digital power, communications and logistics. This upgrade can create hundreds of millions of new jobs for several decades.
Secondly, it is now easier for us to make the mind-shift to life-long learning because of the ready availability of democratised, on-line information. We can already harness free, accessible knowledge to address today’s and tomorrow’s urgent challenges of climate change and desperate poverty.
So, who is most adept at adapting to this new paradigm? Rifkin observes that millennials are already sharing resources in a distributed, social economy as opposed to owning them as in a centralised, market economy. There is a change in attitude toward past values: What we do with what we have/own impacts the whole human family because we are all connected.
It seems that creative business people have a head-start in the future of work
Who will succeed in this brave new world? The World Economic Forum advises that “To thrive in today’s innovation-driven economy, … in addition to foundational skills like literacy and numeracy, [workers] need competencies like collaboration, creativity and problem-solving, and character qualities like persistence, curiosity and initiative.”
These competencies and qualities are typically found at the intersection of the arts and entrepreneurship. It seems that creative business people have a head-start in the future of work. Unfortunately, many creatives today are not that successful as they lack the necessary business skills and acumen.
Creative Business Hub is addressing this challenge with a development programme specifically for creative business people. Not only do people working in the creative arts enrich our lives, but they contribute over R 90bn to the South African economy annually. How much better could they do if they had a profitable business?
If you are in the arts business – or know someone who is a creative entrepreneur – please help us by answering this short questionnaire to help us ensure that our programme makes a meaningful impact in participants’ businesses. You might even be selected to join the June 2018 intake.
Have you seen the future? And does it work for you?
About the author: Rick Ed is a mentor, trainer and business advisor at DoBetter.Business.