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Workers of the future: Where we’re headed and what skills you’ll need

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The future, no matter what it holds, is always an exciting and often daunting prospect. From robots to medical miracles, rocket ships to agricultural developments, and cybernetics to digital evolution, the next 80 years of this century is set up to look very different to the one we occupy today.

One question which frequently arises around the future is how the workplace will look for its employees and employers. With the job market changing every day to accommodate new roles based around key digital and technological advances creating new roles but also casting doubt over traditional essential skills.  As a company that helps people create and find the best work environment for their employees and their business, we were curious to explore what the future workforce and workplace might look like. 

Robots and AI are set to power on

A frequent worry on the minds of many workers are that their jobs may prove ripe to be taken over by automated systems and other forms of Artificial Intelligence in the near future. Our study reveals that this is a possibility for a number of jobs in UK industries but not for select others.

Roles most at risk include those who work as waiters and waitresses, bar staff, shelf fillers, farm workers, cleaners and vehicle valets. This is due to them listed as elementary occupations which consist of routine and physical tasks. By contrast, the roles listed as least at risk from automation are positions such as teachers, therapists, psychologists, medical practitioners and physiotherapists. This could be based on the fact that these jobs require a more responsive connection to their clients, as well as a more focused skillset.

It is thought however, that the installation of AI components in the workplace will create new employment opportunities for monitoring the performance of automated services. Many of these jobs in today’s employment climate are focused in a ‘golden triangle’ based between Reading, Cambridge and London, where 75% of AI jobs are offered.

With the increase of tech roles and ‘AI talent’ across many different industries including healthcare companies, media, consulting firms, finance, marketing and more, businesses will be set to look at the best ways of working in an age where flexibility is key.

The employee of the future

Amidst all of this, a main question emerges: what does the employee of the future look like? A key insight the study reveals is that while the duties and expertise of employees today may change, there are several worker qualities that will remain helpful in the coming years. These are the traits which are thought to be the top skills needed for the future. Leading the charge on these are analytical facets such as communication skills, software expertise and problem solving as well as more ‘human’ characteristics such as empathy, teamwork and interpersonal abilities.  

Alongside this information, the study reveals the changes among university course applicants who are set to make up future employees. The medical and biological sciences have seen a marked increase, with medicine and dentistry increasing by 9%. Other upturns include law (at 3%) and computer science (at 2%), with the latter nicely coinciding with the rise of automation in the workplace.

The research also details the university courses which have seen a decrease. Interestingly, despite the need for engineering workers around automation, applications to engineering and technology courses are both down by >1%. The biggest blow however comes to the creative arts and design which have decreased by 4, a subject that promotes and fosters communication skills, problem solving and of course creativity skills that can be applied to many roles.

Flexibility is the future

With such a marked increase in technical roles comes the consideration of new working methods. One of the most in demand work benefits for many companies in the current working economy is the desire for flexible and remote working, with nearly 72% of UK employees stating that working flexibly is important. With the focus on technology and digital working environments, this is becoming more and more a reality for many businesses with companies centred in economic behemoths like London, and then setting up flexible office spaces in locations like Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Newcastle.

Taking this into consideration flexible office spaces are set to increase as business become more agile and adaptable in response to sustainability as well as their worker’s needs. Flexioffices rapidly expanding collection of office spaces is set perfectly to bring companies into the future, adding that extra flexibility which has been shown to be a key component of modern working practice.  

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