I have been reading lately about the changing dynamic in the workplace. There is so much happening and it is happening fast. I believe we could be woefully unprepared for the fallout. We have been hearing since the beginning of the industrial revolution that machines will be replacing humans in the workplace. There is and was some truth to that, but since most people just moved from one skill to another, albeit, some moved unwillingly and slowly, the move took place. Still, some jobs were shed from the economy. But automation in the last ten years has accelerated to a point where the prediction is finally becoming reality. Even if we are not losing our jobs directly to automation, the jobs are being outsourced overseas to markets where organizations can find less expensive labor. The political argument behind that is for another day. The fact remains, it is happening and those jobs are not coming back, no matter what any politician promises you. If they come back, the cost of labor here in the US would drive prices up even higher, thus widening the wealth gap.
I find this article quite enlightening... The Economist. It is only one of many I have read.
So what are we to do? Rather than sit around waiting for politicians and government to solve the problem, I believe that the one thing that has kept us relevant as human beings since the beginning of time has been our ability to adapt to ever changing environments and to learn. Those who adapt quickest and best are those who eagerly embrace learning.
We don't need formal learning opportunities. Is a matter of fact, if we wait for them to come along, I suspect they may not be relevant by the time they arrive. Our world is changing that rapidly.
So, how do we learn, if not in classes (either in person or online courses). We learn the way we have learned for centuries. We seek out others who are doing what we want to do and learn from them (apprenticeships and coaching/mentoring). We use the wealth of knowledge at our fingertips (the internet). We tackle projects with diverse teams at work so we not only learn about the subject matter but we connect with people of unique backgrounds to better understand the world in which we live.
We read, explore and simply be curious about the world around us. We take part in the workplace and the political landscape in a way that is open to new ideas about how things should work, instead of relying on those in a position of power over us to define that world for us. It is sad to say, but their agenda is not always as altruistic as they portray. They, like many of us, are simply trying to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world and they do that by holding on to their power at all costs. Understanding their motives better enables us to navigate the turbulent waters ahead with an eye on creating a world where meaningful work is available to everyone. Some of what they propose may become reality. But personally, I do not want to trust my future to someone who is not really invested in my future. Instead, they are trying to hold on to their own future.
To stay relevant, as individuals, we need to embrace a passion for learning. As a business, we need to create a culture of learning where the people we employ are valued and encouraged to take on new challenges, which may mean they are not always successful the first time or two. Remember, what we are doing in many cases has never been done before... the learning curve is steep and the best way to overcome that hurdle is to be supportive of all of those around us and collaborate in ways that produce amicable relationships and long-term solutions to the real problems up ahead.
Learning is and always has been, the key to our ability to adapt and move forward. Let's embrace learning!