I recently attended a public forum in Dubai that discussed the topic of ‘Future of Work, Automation, Robots and Artificial Intelligence’ to a packed room of people from different backgrounds. What I found quite interesting was the fact that the majority of the crowd was recent graduates and college students.
Matter of fact, this group posed most of the questions to the panelists. More than intrigue or hunger for knowledge on the topic; It dawned on me that the questions were really motivated by genuine concern and fear. Fear of what the future holds. Listening to their questions, I found myself empathizing with them.
Think about it, it has barely been 10 years since the world was swept by the so called global financial crisis. Entire industries were decimated and global creation of jobs was cut down by half according to the International Labor Organisation (ILO). On the back of the global financial crisis two themes seemed to have emerged and influenced the global job market since then; an increased focus on entrepreneurship and the growing ‘war for talent’ as it was referred to.
Youth, whether still students in school, college or in the job market trying to find a suitable career were now bombarded with messages encouraging them to go back to college and develop an extra set of skills in order to be perceived as “multi-talented”. Many were told that an MBA alone wouldn’t be able to cut it. And if you did not jump on the hyped up ‘entrepreneurship’ bandwagon you were doomed to unemployment or simply being ‘not cool enough’. In the face of all these messages; Executive MBAs and Mini-MBAs became more popular, a growing number of companies invested in In-house academies, entrepreneurship accelerators and incubators have become very common across the region especially in cities such as Dubai.
Now that we are finally here and just when we thought that we have figured out how we can fit in this big monstrous machine called ‘the global economy’, we are told that we now have to compete with, with……”machines”! Machines that are 10 times more efficient and accurate than human beings, and cost employers much less in the long run (no sick leaves, no end of service, no pension to be paid and no expensive farewell parties). Everyone is either talking or writing about Machines replacing people, and worse, everyone seems to be painting it as something cool! Confusing, isn’t it?
To be fair, not all is gloom and doom as I just painted it to be. There are ways –I hope- we mortal human beings can be seen as competitive and attractive to employers as machines are. For instance, there is a great deal of literature as well as programs that focus on developing what are known as ‘soft skills’ or ‘smart skills’ within the workforce as a way to remain to remain relevant and add value. However this is not the topic of this article.
What I find most interesting is a question that is becoming all too familiar now not only among the current and future workforce amidst this ever-evolving of what should a career look like, and what is the future of work. That crucial question I’m referring to is “What is or should my purpose be now”? The question is a dangerous one with life-changing consequences; these consequences can be positive as well as negative. Examples of the negative implications can vary from low-morale, lack of productivity, depression all the way to extremes such as crime and terrorism. That’s why I believe families, schools, policy-makers and even the corporate world should not take this issue lightly, and should in their own way contribute to address what I believe is a ‘Time-Bomb’.
So, how do you know that you are actually living your purpose? Simple, when you are doing what you love to do, doing what you are good at, and accomplishing what’s important to you and the people around you.
If you are a student about to enter the job market, a jobseeker, or even an existing employee and you haven’t figured out what your purpose is, or cannot articulate it, now seems to be a pretty good time to do so considering the pace the world is changing. In my next post, I’ll share with you a neat and simple way I learned to identify your purpose and articulate it.
Watch this space.