Every day, robotics and automated technologies are making more jobs obsolete. Automated systems in the 1990s put an end to telephone operators and word processors. Later, technology brought the reduction in jobs for bank tellers, travel agents, tax preparers and more.
And though technology has also created jobs, it’s disrupting entire industries, making more employees wonder about the long-term vitality of their jobs.
“Nowadays, employees must stay current with technologies that are potential game changers for their fields and learn to use the most important technological tools in their industries,” says Tracey Wilen, a researcher and speaker on the impact of technology on society, work and careers. She is also co-author of “Employed for Life: 21st-Century Career Trends.” (Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2013)
Researchers predict that by 2020, more than 75 percent of jobs will have a technical component, making it impossible for workers to ignore technology as they might have in the past. Whether it’s as a result of sensor technology, social media, cloud computing, solar energy or wearable technology, more industries will look and feel completely different in coming years.
In addition, Wilen says, more American will be working beyond typical retirement age and must learn to reinvent themselves in a technological world.
Even the tech savvy must readjust. In the past, companies hiring technology professionals focused on the right skill set. But Wilen notes that increasingly they must also have skills in communications, management and team building.
Wilen says innovative employees are already thinking about how to reposition themselves in light of the changes in their industries. For instance, manufacturing manager saw that increase of robotics in line work and decided to prepare himself as a robotics manager.
“It’s really important to understand the implications of technology on your job,” Wilen added.
She offers the following tips for staying afloat in a technology-based economy:
• Keep on top of industry trends. New technologies are the key to employability. Learn about them in industry blogs and publications.
• Learn new technologies in your industry. It’s a great way to gain a competitive advantage. Work with your employer to use or implement new applications and technologies.
• Sign up for training at work. Many companies provide training opportunities for new technologies for free as part of professional development programs.
• Make lateral moves. Moving within an organization allows you to expand your expertise, enhance your skills, increase your visibility and identify future career opportunities.
• Learn online. Software and apps come with online tutorials. YouTube also provides endless hours of video tutorials from technology providers and everyday experts.
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