Is Every Job Changing?
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO

Is every job changing?  Yes, from what I have seen, it is.  And, if every job is changing, we are going to need to train our teams to understand the way our jobs are changing and provide the opportunity to gain the new skills or attitudes necessary for success.

First, every job requires more knowledge and education.  We still need the traditional basics—reading, writing, and arithmetic—and even more of the four Cs—creativity, collaboration, communication, and coding.

Let’s look at an example from our Upstate Agri-business sector:

Consider a New York Times story from April 22, 2014, that reported:

Something strange is happening at farms in upstate New York. The cows are milking themselves. Desperate for reliable labor and buoyed by soaring prices, dairy operations across the state are charging into a brave new world of udder care: robotic milkers … Robots allow the cows to set their own hours, lining up for automated milking five or six times a day—turning the predawn and late-afternoon sessions around which dairy farmers long built their lives into a thing of the past. With transponders around their necks, the cows get individualized service. Lasers scan and map their underbellies, and a computer charts each animal’s “milking speed,” a critical factor in a 24-hour-a-day operation. The robots also monitor the amount and quality of milk produced, the frequency of visits to the machine, how much each cow has eaten, and even the number of steps each cow has taken per day, which can indicate when she is in heat. In the future, a successful cow milker may need to be an astute data reader and analyst.

Every job is also being disaggregated. The high-skilled part of any job – to include cow milker – is moving up.  If you used to be a cow milker, now you either have to learn computing or may need to become a veterinarian who understands the anatomy of cows or be a big data scientist who can analyze a cow’s behavior.

At the same time the less skilled part of that job—herding cows into and out of the milking barn and cleaning up after them—may get done by anyone for a minimum wage (and probably soon by a robot). This is a broad trend in the workplace: the skilled part of each job requires more skill and rewards more skill, and the routine, repetitive part is highly replaceable.

At the same time, every job is also threatened by outsourcing to machines, robots, or other countries. Increased self-motivation, persistence, and willingness to learn new technical or social-emotional skills to keep a step ahead has become critical.

And, finally, every job is being subjected to potential obsolescence.  And, this is occurring faster than ever. This threat demands more entrepreneurial thinking at every level: constantly searching for new niches and new opportunities.

Our workplaces and our educational systems must be retooled to provide the skills and attributes needed for success such as strong fundamentals in writing, reading, coding, and math; creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration; grit, self-motivation, and lifelong learning habits; and entrepreneurship and improvisation—at every level.

If every job is changing, what are you doing to prepare yourself – and your company?  Now is the time to take it very seriously.

For a more detailed description of these job changes see Thanks for Being Late by a Thomas Friedman.