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Technology, automation, and the metaverse will build new careers

The future of work will be shaped by disruptive automation. In conversation with People Matters, Sharad Mehra, CEO (APAC) of Global University Systems, describes how this blends technological and human expertise with a variety of next-generation skills and an innovative mindset By Sudeshna Mitra

The present age has brought chaotic disruption to many businesses. The challenges of today include talent shortage, efficient retention, wellness and several others, all of which come together and give a new structure to the future of work.

To understand how the future of work may appear, People Matters spoke with Sharad Mehra, CEO (APAC) of higher education network Global University Systems. Here's what he told us during the interaction.

How do you define ‘the future of work’?

Disruptive automation – which combines technical and human expertise – alongside a host of nextreality skills and an innovative approach will be setting the tone for the future of work across the globe. With the metaverse unfolding at high speed around us, we can expect working styles, organisational operations, businesses, skill sets, domain expertise to undergo huge transformations and create ‘next level’ interactions where connections will matter in a big way. And in this increasingly autonomous ecosystem, it will be important for everyone to be a ‘forever learner’ where upskilling will be a norm.

Simultaneously, the 4Cs – Culture, Collaboration, Communication and Connectivity – will continue to drive the work scenario ahead.

Another important development will be new careers that didn’t exist five years ago or even now. These will see an escalation on the

One of the most impactful changes will be the rise of careers that don’t exist today

employment front. In fact, a recent World Economic Forum report projects that by 2025, 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines, and algorithms. The resulting changes in talent acquisition processes will continue to disrupt the playing field and hybrid working styles will become a norm. For example, we made work from home two days a week, a permanent feature at GUS. We can also expect companies and organisations to become less hierarchical and more aligned to working on projects, consultancies and other similar models.

In an article, Forbes stated, “It’s been predicted that 85% of the jobs that will be available in 2030 don’t yet exist!” How do you look at this?

Yes, that’s a reality. With increasing progress in technology, automation and the shift towards metaverse, one of the most impactful changes will be the rise of careers that don’t exist today. For example, in the metaverse ecosystem we can expect new roles like: Metaverse Business Strategist, Meta Event Direct, Metaverse Research Scientist, AR VR Designer, Crypto Artist and others.

The future of jobs will also hinge upon the following factors:

Before anything else, organisations have to remember that all changes should centre around the human element

Workplace Skills – Ability to work in a team that you have not seen; playing a team game without knowing the team is pivotal to the workplace.

New-Reality Skills – Negotiation kindness, gratitude, mindfulness besides domain expertise.

Cognitive Skills – Creativity, originality, reasoning, critical and analytical thinking and complex problem solving.

Being up-to-speed with

technology – The VUCA world will continue to expand with technological shifts easing challenges.

When we reimagine the job landscape, we also have to be prepared that the careers of the future will be more fluid, cross-disciplinary, requiring multiple experiences and multi-functional. In my opinion, we can expect the expansion of gig roles, reskilling and rebooting backed by technological skills.

While such predictions are being made, do you think that the skills being imparted to the present workforce will be useful by 2030?

The four skills mentioned above are already setting the base for the future and I’d like to classify them as ‘Evergreen Skills’ that can outshine any challenge or change. What’s important

What’s important to remember is that since we are seeing huge technological strides in the form of Edge Computing, 5G, Metaverse and other similar tech shifts, we will have to be prepared to have a constant upgrade, upskill and learn new things to stay relevant and in sync with the changes that unfold around us.

to remember is that since we are seeing huge technological strides in the form of Edge Computing, 5G, Metaverse and other similar tech shifts, we will have to be prepared to have a constant upgrade, upskill and learn new things to stay relevant and in sync with the changes that unfold around us.

A survey conducted by PWC revealed that only 26% of respondents strongly agreed they can identify the skills the organisation will need in the future due to technological change. How, according to you, should organisations look at this to shape their L&D programs going forward?

Change is an inevitable part of life.

Before anything else, organisations have to remember that all changes should centre around the human element. That’s why we’ve witnessed an escalation of in-house programs and conversations on mental well-being, workplace improvement, inclusivity and diversity, incorporation of technical learning among other changes. Like the current trend, upskilling will not be limited to just domain expertise but will also include other softer and important skills like developing more collaborations, building bonds, networking and looking at a positive and impactful change in not just in professional but personal life as well. So, in the future, companies have to be mindful of ensuring that people matter to themselves and their organisations via all these trainings and other programmes.

To what extent do you think process automation is going to affect the future workforce?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and emerging technology is an exciting part of what is to arrive in the future.

Besides moulding talent development by creating learning strategies, it will help sharpen critical thinking, emotional intelligence, reasoning skills and more. RPA will reshape the workforce by sharpening employee engagement, increase productivity and further raise quality standards by opening doors for employees to add value to existing processes by improving their quality, approach and also catalyse innovation.