“Damn robots, coming over here and taking our jobs!”
This seems to be the overarching fear of technology, tapping into our inner fears of job security and to a large extent, not entirely unfounded – and certainly nothing new. In the early 18th century, ‘Luddites’ destroyed machinery to protest the advancement of machinery in the textile industries fearing years of learning their craft would suddenly become irrelevant.
Over the years, industrialisation, automation and disruptive technology certainly has drastically reshaped the labour market, and at a seemingly faster pace than ever before. On a regular basis I have candidates and current freelancers asking me for advice into which areas they should upskill, and where I’m seeing growth or contraction.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer here, as the variables of their experience, expertise and attitude come into play, but what I tap into is what are they passionate about? Is that transferable into other areas? Lets look at that CV and tweak it to include other incidental tasks you've been doing that's relevant to a future employer.
I can’t speak for the manufacturing or service industry side of things - but I can share some examples of the creative world. I would argue that creative is in growth - or even boom mode especially with the growing dominance of visual communication. So where does that leave our veteran creatives?
While software and tools are changing rapidly, there are so many human elements to these roles that can never be replaced. It’s certainly easier to train someone on a new type of software or plugin than train someone to think creatively and have an eye for design.
For instance; good design is good design – regardless if it’s on a flyer, billboard, cereal box or on your device. Is the composition and layout right? Do the colours work well together? Do they convey the right message? Can you sell your idea to the client?
Some tech is moving so fast I’ve had freelancers contracted to project-based roles where they were learning it on the job along with the existing designers – what I was able to sell the client was a track record of the candidate meeting deadlines, being a good ‘roll up the sleeves’ worker able to adapt to new environments, be pleasant to work with and share different ideas and points of view while they’re at it. Having someone who can quickly learn and apply new skills will be an sought after asset to any business.
As a final thought - our clients more and more talk about ‘the right fit’ for their team – most are aware that many facets of their business have and/or will be changing soon, so having a core team of people that work well together and can be retrained is a good investment. Plus most of us thrive in a work environment where we learn new things, enjoy each other’s company and get along.
We’re only human after all.