The Changing Face of the Daily Grind

This post was first published on the Telefónica Global Millennial Survey blog  on 14 October 2013.

The jobs market is changing, and technology is in the driver’s seat. Innovation and automation are advancing at breakneck speed. The digital revolution is both creating and destroying job opportunities — as new roles are invented, old roles are made defunct. Automation through technology has made many processes more productive and more efficient, but reduced the need for manual labour and has put many workers out of jobs. On the flip side, new roles requiring workers to be technically savvy, adaptable, flexible and relevant are being created every day.

Perusing an online jobs site yields results such as Growth Hacker, App Developer, User Experience Designer, Social Media Expert, Search Engine Optimisation Specialist, and Ruby on Rails Developer. These are legitimate and highly-sought positions, yet they didn’t even exist 10 years ago, let alone 30 years ago when my parents were my age. Older generations find it difficult to impart relevant career advice on younger generations, because the workforce has changed so drastically since they were younger. It was a time devoid of computers and mobile phones; email and the Internet were not crucial instruments of the workplace; Windows were just windows; and Google was a made-up word. Millennials are finding themselves in a brand new employment market, and they’re learning on the run, because the world is continuing to change at such a rapid pace.

The next generation of workers is the most digitally connected and the most technologically savvy generation in history. Recent economic conditions have further shaped this generation, making them adaptable, resilient and more creative. The financial crisis hit the Millennial generation right at the beginning of their careers, forcing many young people to find work through less conventional channels. Starting a business became a more attractive option as traditional jobs were harder to come by, pay levels receded, and technology made these endeavours more affordable and easier than ever. Millennial trailblazers such as Mark Zuckerberg have inspired a generation of entrepreneurs.

Tech start-ups have created a wave of new jobs in the economy, and not necessarily through directly employing staff themselves. Marketplace websites such as eBay, Amazon and Etsy have enabled individuals to generate their own income by selling goods online; freelancers can list their services on sites such as Elance or People Per Hour and reach a worldwide market of customers; and many traditional services such as counselling and tutoring can be conducted over Skype. This has not only changed the way that people make money, but it is also shaping the way that they learn and develop skills for work.

Education is adapting to keep up with the changing workforce, and is becoming less rigid to suit the flexible work environment. Some world-class institutions are sharing their syllabus online, enabling individuals to access high quality education at a fraction of the cost as was previously possible. Websites such as Udacity provide free online lectures by Ivy League professors. People don’t need to attend traditional institutions anymore in order to learn the skills required for the workforce. Many new roles in technology are now being hired based on innate ability, such as tenacity and adaptability, rather than traditional qualifications.

Given how much the workforce has changed in the last 10 years, it is certain that the employment market will continue to change with technological advancements in the future. With the advent of new technologies such as 3D printers and personalized advertising, which are set to change the dynamics of entire industries, a new range of demands will no doubt ensue. Jobs of the future will require adaptable, capable and innovative minds to step up to the challenge and Millennials are certainly up to the task.

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