The future of work part 2
What can I do if my job gets replaced by Artificial Intelligence?
In the last article we looked an at A to Z list of skills that will help make you more employable in the technology-enhanced working world. With current predictions of the numbers of jobs that will be replaced by AI or robots, however, by 2030 there is a good chance that at least 30% of those reading this article will be replaced by some form of artificially intelligence in the future. Consider these statistics quoted by Forbes Magazine (2017)
- 38% of jobs in the United States, 35% of jobs in Germany, 30% of UK jobs and 21% of jobs in Japan could be at potential risk of automation by the early 2030s according to PwC, and
- More than 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human by 2020—Gartner
So, if a cute but not so cuddly bot takes over your job, what happens to you? What can you do to keep yourself sustained?
Firstly, getting retrenched could be a blessing in disguise. Don’t let it get you down. When you are first approached by management with talk of retrenchment use this as an opportunity to start negotiating. Employers may well be amenable to funding some training for you to get re-skilled so that you could start your own business or learn new skills to make a career change.
Ask your employer what skills they need that are in short supply – they may be retrenching your skill set, but chances are they are desperately trying to fill other jobs but can’t find the skills. Ask them if they will consider training you. Or, better still assessing your current competence levels in that skills set to award a formal qualification (a process known as recognition of prior learning or RPL.) You have institutional knowledge and will integrate better into the new role. All you need are the new credentials or qualifications. Its worth a try if you want to stay.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate a better retrenchment package than the statutory minimum. Most employers use this minimum as an opening offer, but many are more than willing (if they have the resources and are not nearly bankrupt) to pay a little more to tide you over while you look for new opportunities. One employer I had dealings with recently gave retrenched staff a three-month (paid) notice period to look for and secure new opportunities. They worked in the three-months of course, but if they hadn’t found anything by the end of it the employer gave them another three-months. Very decent of the employer under the circumstances to make sure no one was left destitute.
Try and negotiate a supplier contract, where you sell your skills back to them as a contract worker while you look for new job opportunities. This could become the basis for a new you as a gig worker, with your old employer and a few new ones as your clients. (They may be retrenching but they will rarely have absolutely no need for your skills set from a particular date – these things usually fade out gradually.)
Secondly, think about starting your own business. Many people view self-employment as less than desirable because they don’t like taking risks, but it can be incredibly empowering to be in charge of your own income destiny. The stress of constantly going through restructuring activities is a reality for many modern-day employees, and this can be left behind if you take the plunge. Think about what you are good at, research the potential market in your area and use social media to gauge people’s receptiveness to your ideas. If you get a favourable response, give it a try.
Realise that the gig economy is a growing trend internationally. In fact, many English-speaking nations such as the US and the UK are both producing and hiring independent workers at a rapid rate. Statistics indicate that about half of the UK’s working population will be self-employed within the next five years, while one-third of the US workforce is made up of freelancers. This is a growing trend in South Africa as well because you simply don’t need to work 8 to 5 in order to earn a living any more. There are web sites that you can use to market yourself around the world. Have a look at www.fiverr.com and www.upwork.com . Websites such as www.airtasker.com are creating opportunities for people to also complete ad hoc tasks offline. You can work from home and be mobile. No more traffic and no more grumpy boss. What’s not to like?
But, if you really would prefer another formal job opening as an employee, use your social media networks to network. Don’t be afraid to ask your network to share the news that you are looking for a position and summarise what you do and the contribution you can make. Offer to work on a no-pay trial basis if you can afford to (reality is that most employers will pay you something for your time and it could lead to a permanent job).
What other ideas can you think of? Let’s collaborate and build an even bigger list of ideas to help and guide people who may find themselves replaced by machines in the near future.