Suggestion for coping with massive change that could replace your job: Take full responsibility for developing new skills for yourself.

Embrace Change” by Iqbal Osman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The rate of change we are seeing around us is massive. There are threats of automation or artificial intelligence even eating into what is called the white-collar world.

Here’s a suggestion on how you might cope with this overwhelming change:  Take on full responsibility for keeping your skills and abilities current.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Attestation Update.)

8/1/17 – Medium – Skill, re-skill, and re-skill again. How to keep up with the future of work. – The rate of change is accelerating and the skills needed to do work in the new economy are changing as well.

Article provides a brief summary of our education system. I will expand that with what I have learned elsewhere. Then I’ll mention a plan to dealing with this turmoil.

When we had an agricultural economy you didn’t need a lot of training to help out on the family farm and then take it over when you either bought your own land or inherited the family plot.

When the economy transitioned to an industrial and factory model with support staff consisting of white color jobs, dramatically different skills were needed and the educational system complied. Technical skills were trained but more importantly the ability to do assigned tasks at the assigned time in the assigned way became paramount.

That is the way our educational system has worked for the last hundred years: show up on time, sit still, listen to the lecture, regurgitate the material on an exam, and transition to the next stage only when the bell rang.

That model doesn’t work in the economy as it is has transitioned to something new. Far more creativity and flexibility  are required. New skills, some not yet specified are needed to stay relevant. Yet our educational system still trains for the industrial era of sit-down-sit-still-shut-up-and-do-what-you-were-told.

One concept in the article that you will hear frequently is a suggestion that skill sets have a half-life of five years. That means many of the current skills you have today will only be half as valuable in five years. To avoid getting overwhelmed or replaced that means you need to be restocking your skill set regularly.

Article says each individual, all employers, and even government have responsibility for helping people transitioned into the world of rapid changes.

The days of a 40 year career with one employer are gone. Article says average tenure in a job today is four and a half years.

I suggest to you the short tenure of employment implies employers are not going to be spending a lot of time investing in new skills. If so, that means you will have to take responsibility to figure out what new things you need to learn and figure out how to get those skills on your own time.

A radical idea I draw from the article and commend for your consideration is perhaps you need to take full responsibility for your own skills. Perhaps you need to figure out how to identify what new skills you need and then go get them.

Make the investment.

You are worth it.


In case you were still wondering whether to take all this massive change seriously, consider…

8/7/17 – Prof. Glenn Reynolds at USA Today – Legal automation spells relief for lower-income Americans, hard times for lawyers Software programs able to provide simple legal services are coming online. Article mentions one that helps people challenge tickets, which has been quite successful, having succeeded in helping overturning 160,000 citations.

The concept is this will provide legal help to people who currently cannot afford legal assistance. The consequence will be less work for attorneys. The upside will be more justice for people who can’t afford it today.

There is an interesting tradeoff. Article suggests the help provide by automation will be of lower quality than if a live, experienced attorney were to assist. That is not a valid comparison. Instead, the article says the software will provide far higher quality legal services than if a person just accepted whatever the legal system dished out or if unknowledgeable people tried to represent themselves in court.

After considering the previous article, ponder the impact of this type of software on the legal profession. Then ponder the impact of some sort of comparable software on your professional job. Then ponder how you can develop some new skills to work with that software or perform higher-level tasks that will still be left.

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