“If you do not change, you can become extinct!” – Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese?
Twenty years ago, I had a manager who said that my job in Human Resources would be replaced by a machine one day, but that would be a good thing. I failed to see how that was encouraging.
Over those twenty years, however, I have seen the benefits of technology in my line of work, in affording me the time to think more strategically by spending less time on tactical work. Technological innovation has brought immeasurable societal gain but has often been faced with the fear of self-preservation. If a machine can do my job faster, cheaper, AND better, what will become of ME?
We have all been asked to pivot in nearly all aspects of life lately by moving to online platforms. For example, I love my virtual workout classes that don’t involve a commute or listening to people grunt. COVID-19 has made it obvious that we rely on technology more than we ever have. The New York Times has reported that most middle-class jobs demand some technological proficiency. As of May, half of US workers were working remotely (previously 15%) and automation in many fields has steadily been on the rise.
Workers now need more advanced skills to survive, particularly in a time when unemployment numbers are steadily increasing. Even Congress has recognized how important this is and worked in a bipartisan fashion to draft the Skills Renewal Act, which would provide up to $4K in tax credits to newly unemployed workers seeking training in high-demand areas. Managerial and other strategic roles are always far harder to replace with technology. It’s a perfect time to “upskill” and get around to the training you have neglected, instead of binging the next Netflix series.
The best part about upskilling is that usually many of these skills, if not most, are portable—you can take them from job to job. Just like I take my free weights from my living room to the patio sometimes…sans grunting.