Are you concerned about your future professional career?

How to protect your future career

Let’s talk about where professional’s careers are heading and what you can do to be more successful.

What do you think the world will be like in ten years’ time?

If you cast your mind back ten years, you couldn’t have imagined the developments that have occurred in that time.

There have been massive changes in technology throughout the world, and, as a result, many changes have also occurred in how we work.

There was a time when employers looked after the careers of their professionals. It was common back in the 1970s and 1980s for a professional to have more than 40 years with the same employer, but that’s pretty rare today.

Employers provided, and usually required, that you had specific experience and training during your early career years. Today professionals are expected to manage their own career development.

We are facing enormous disruptive shifts, which will continue to reshape work into the future. The big problem is we are given little direction about what experience, skills and training is required to progress your career.

In many cases, this is because the employers haven’t planned for it, or they don’t even know. And there are limited professional development opportunities for transport professionals.

The big question: What skills will you need to protect your job in the future?

Let us consider some of the changes facing professionals today.

The job market is shrinking. In the U.S., since the year 2000, the population has grown at 2.2 times the number of jobs. In contrast, over the previous 50 years, jobs grew at 1.6 times the population.

This is a major concern because the job market for professionals is becoming more and more competitive. More professionals already have postgraduate qualifications, such as a master’s degree, which raises the bar when you compete for a job.

There’s growing global competition for jobs. For example, India produces something like 1.5 million engineering graduates every year. This is a major concern when you consider how much Indian engineers are paid compared to western countries.

Technical jobs have been outsourced to Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe because of readily available communication technology, together with improved education levels and the low cost of living and wages in these countries.

As a result, many jobs are moving offshore.

Let’s consider some of the technology changes that are impacting work. Artificial intelligence (AI) together with automation will continue to impact routine professional work.

Take the example of the legal industry. AI can search documents and databases quicker, better, and cheaper than a law clerk. A Deloitte study of the future of work predicted that 39% of legal jobs will be automated within 10 years.

Software packages can be designed to do technical work quicker, better, and cheaper. Professionals, however, need to be developing innovative solutions and interpreting the results of automated calculations and designs, rather than just doing the specific, rule-based technical work, which follows standards and accepted approaches.

In the Deloitte study referred to above, 42% of executives surveyed expect to increase or significantly increase the use of contingent workers in the next 3 to 5 years.

There’s been a dramatic growth in the ‘gig’ economy. Think drivers for Uber and others who make a living without any form of employment agreement.

Contract professionals are now readily available on online freelance platforms, such as Upwork and Freelancer, and the numbers are growing, providing professional technical staff for employers. Employers no longer need large, full-time, professional staffs. They can hire experts for each project as they’re required, reducing their costs and overheads.

Another trend is the half-life of knowledge. It’s now only about five years for engineering related work for example. That means half of your technical knowledge today will become obsolete in five years.

Current personal technology apps are also moving to work apps.

Think of how Siri, an intelligent, cloud-based assistant, could apply to your work. Facebook uses algorithms to make suggestions based on what you have done previously. All these apps are being considered for work applications and will dramatically impact what you do for work in the future.

Are you a professional?

pro·fes·sion·al /prəˈfɛʃ(ə)n(ə)l/
noun: a person competent or skilled in a particular activity.

You are a professional if you are a member of a vocation or occupation that has specialised education, knowledge, skills or experience, usually with tertiary qualifications and industry experience.

For example an engineer or planner with a degree and at least three to five years experience can be considered a professional.

Another means of defining a professional is if you get paid for your specialised knowledge to do a specific job or role — either as en employee or as a consultant.

There is also an element of craftsmanship in being a professional — you develop your knowledge of principles, patterns and practices and heuristics (experienced based techniques for problem solving) and assimilate knowledge by practice over an extended period of time.

When you are a professional, others seek you out for your particular expertise in a field or discipline. And you can achieve career advancement to a well paid position of authority.

Most of us go to work in order to perform tasks in return for some mix of money, status, recognition and job satisfaction.

You may be lucky enough to have a job that allows you to contribute to a greater good; you may enjoy the work itself and the company of your colleagues and stakeholders you work with. You may also choose a particular job because it has the potential to satisfy your career objectives.

How can you be a more successful professional?

To be more successful you need to develop or enhance the traits of a professional:

  • highly educated in a specific field, with specialist training and qualifications, and considerable experience in the field — so gain specialist training, qualifications and experience and become a master
  • an expert and have specialised skills and knowledge, a master in a specific field — become recognised as an expert and a master by developing specialised skills and knowledge
  • engaged in intellectually challenging and creative work (more mental than physical) — volunteer and get involved in challenging and creative work
  • highly competent in a particular activity or process, such as problem solving — become highly competent in sought after processes
  • known for producing high quality work, interested in doing a job well, commitment to performing at the highest level — produce only high quality work
  • have a duty of care to your client, employer and the community — take on the mantle of duty of care in everything you do
  • engaged in constant learning and improvement and moving towards mastery in your specific field — become lifelong learner.

You can make your job more secure by ensuring your skills and experiences are appropriate to the emerging needs of the professional sector you work in.

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