According to Jed Kolko, Chief Economist at Indeed, the world’s largest job site, the more informed people are about the labour market, the easier it will be to find jobs that are a good fit.

That’s why he’s made it his mission to sift through data – and lots of it – to monitor labour trends and develop forecasts for the future of work.

Using granular data from a range of sources, some proprietary and some publicly available, Jed and his team of researchers create forward-looking measures to gain a full picture of the labour market from both sides of the coin.

 

What is the future of work?

For Jed, the debate about the future of work comes down to two things: whether today’s jobs will be replaced by technology, automation and Artificial Intelligence; and what form these jobs of the future will take: full-time in an organisation, or of an alternative arrangement, such as one-off gigs arranged through online platforms.

Reassuringly, he says that mass unemployment is not on the cards for the near future.

“After many decades of technological changes and shifts in the labour market, there hasn’t been a trend towards massive unemployment – economies can weather big shifts “, he says.

However, problems in the labour market arise when demands for jobs aren’t a good fit for the skills or experiences that people currently have, or when the  jobs that emerge are in different places to the people who need them most. Some can make these transitions, but for others, it’s difficult or impossible.

In light of this, Jed argues that we must accept that technology – while making some workers more productive – will automate many other roles in the future. Nevertheless, there are steps companies and job seekers can take to ensure they are prepared for whatever the future of work holds.

 

Advice for the corporate sector

For companies looking to hire in today’s tight labour market, Jed believes they should be offering to pay employees more (he disagrees with companies who say they can’t find the workers they need, yet refuse to make changes to their compensation), hire staff who don’t meet every single job requirement, and search more broadly geographically for applicants.

He does admit though, while there are lots of skills you can train someone in, it is harder to develop or teach deep quantitative aptitude.

For job seekers, Jed staunchly believes that soft skills are crucial for weathering changes in the labour market.

“You need to build up the basics – interpersonal skills….logical thinking, good judgement – these will always be valued, even if the technical skills aren’t in demand or don’t exist 20 years from now,” he says.

“Someone in college right now will be in the labour market for 40 years, in a market that will look so different, in ways we can’t predict.”

As such, it’s crucial that both employers and employees learn to adapt to new ways of working – whether that means changing how companies hire and remunerate, or finding more meaningful ways to upskill and learn on the job.

It’s critical that we make these changes now so that we can embrace further technological advances and be prepared for whatever comes next.

 

Jed shared his thoughts at the Leaders’ Lunch, hosted by Silicon Block, in May.

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