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How to future-proof your career

The world of work is evolving at a rapid pace. How can you ensure your job will still be relevant in a few years? We find out.

7 May 2024 · Fiona Zerbst

How to future-proof your career

Technology, globalisation, and changing workforce dynamics mean careers are undergoing a shift – in fact, the “gig” economy and remote-work opportunities have just about replaced secure “jobs for life”.

Viv Gordon, managing director of VGP Recruitment, has some advice on future-proofing your career in uncertain times.

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How is the job market changing?

Increasingly, “traditional” roles are being relegated to the background, while digital roles that provide measurable solutions via data and analytics are coming to the fore.

This digital-first approach may seem to favour Generation Z employees (born between 1995 and the early 2000s), who are “digital natives”, says Gordon. However, they can be at a disadvantage as they lack the wisdom and context that those coming from more traditional careers have gained over the years. 

Those employees who can combine institutional knowledge with strong technical and analytical skills will have an advantage in the future job market, Gordon notes.

Is AI a threat to job security?

In general, jobs are less secure due to South Africa’s weak economy and the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI).

Jobs are scarce, and those that are available demand new skills and competencies. There are concerns that AI can lead to job losses where companies use it to replace humans at a fraction of the cost.

“My advice to employees is to understand how AI can help or hinder your particular skill set, which will help you to anticipate changes and adapt accordingly,” Gordon counsels.

How to make yourself indispensable

It’s not all bad news for employees, notes Gordon.

“As AI takes on more cognitive tasks, we’ll be able to use our emotional intelligence [EQ] to lead and drive teamwork,” she notes.

“AI can’t replicate the nuances of human emotion and social intelligence.”

Both technical and non-technical skills will be in high demand, she adds. “For example, understanding coding and marketing will make you highly sought after from a data analysis and customer engagement strategy perspective.”

Gordon recommends keeping up with global trends and continuing to learn through online courses, workshops, and seminars, particularly those relating to technology.

“Remain curious, embrace change, and network and collaborate with industry leaders and mentors who can provide new perspectives on AI in your chosen industry,” she advises.

“Be willing to pivot on your career path, or transition to emerging roles created by technology.”

Embracing EQ, using critical thinking, finding creative ways to problem-solve, and cultivating interdisciplinary skills will help to safeguard your career against the challenges posed by AI, Gordon says.

“This approach will also allow you to seize opportunities for professional growth and innovation,” she concludes.

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