Future jobs: five new, irresistible forces already shaping your career

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Monday was ‘Future Jobs’ day in National Careers Week, but were the right questions being asked? Your future job and career depend on understanding these five trends…

Part-timers are more productive

“Part-timer” is no longer an accusation levelled at colleagues who leave the office early; it may be a sign that they’re more productive than you. Just in the past few days, the UK passed a significant milestone with more than one million men now working part-time. Sure, many people reduce hours for financial reasons (such as childcare costs), but part-timers are often more efficient in how they deploy their time: recent Timewise data showed that 650,000 people in the higher tax bracket today work part-time. If you want to see how it’s done, check out the latest Power Part Time list.

If you want security, work for a small company

Pre-financial crisis, Royal Bank of Scotland employed a jaw-dropping 225,000 people. In a recent Financial Times interview, CEO Ross McEwan said that number is likely to drop by two-thirds. The process of shedding full-time, permanently contracted staff is under way in many large corporations and public-sector organisations; certainly, ample final-salary pension schemes are a thing of the past. Today, small and medium-sized companies are probably the safest haven for job security. Bear this fact in mind: a mere 24,000 small and medium-sized companies (ie, with an annual turnover between £10m and £200m) employ six million people in the UK. Next week, the London Stock Exchange releases its latest “1000 Companies to Inspire Britain” report. It might be smart to check those companies out as a future employer…

Have a double income

While the UK economy is recovering, wage levels are only nudging feebly upwards; and self-employment incomes are actually falling. So more and more people are seeking double incomes. According to YouGov/eBay research, over half (57%) of online business owners have additional sources of income or side businesses. Adam Kirby, 27-year-old founder of Nail Nation UK combines his business with a full-time accountancy job. He gets up at 4.30am to organise deliveries before commuting to his office job. He admits it’s tough to fit everything in, but having made £60,000 from his first five months of Nail Nation’s trading, it’s been worth it.

Don’t let the robots make you redundant

If you really wanted to scare yourself about your future job, you’d have popped to the Emmanuel Centre last night for the debate “Be afraid, be very afraid: the robots are coming and they will destroy our livelihoods.” In the same way that the industrial revolution wiped out jobs for land workers, so robots are poised to decimate traditional middle-class jobs such as surgery or taxi-driving. Andrew Keen, author of The Internet is Not the Answer told the BBC Today programme: “‘That’s the nightmare of this technological revolution. The low end will be fine, the middle class is going to be decimated, and there will be a new elite an elite who are able to work with computers, who will make massive profits from it.” Scare tactics aside, think about following a career where you can acquire sustainable knowledge and intellectual capital that can’t be replicated by automation. This Forbes article on the fastest (and slowest) growing job sectors is a good place to start thinking.

Your personal brand matters more than your company’s

The Economist recently ran a cover story on “authorpreneurs”. Terrible name, important topic. In the old days, authors would hand over the responsibility for marketing and brand-building to publicists in publishing companies; in a similar way, music artists let the record companies flog records and CDs while they caroused about town in a white Rolls-Royce. Today, in all careers, the middlemen have been ousted; it’s up to each of us to build and monetise ourselves. In a world of self-employment and entrepreneurialism (see above), our personal brand will be our main asset. There are gazillions of advisory articles about how best to achieve this, but this LinkedIn guide is probably the best place to start. Good luck!


Matthew Rock is the Content Development Director at Think Publishing Ltd and was the launch editor of the UK's first entrepreneurs' magazine (Real Business).

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