The world of work is constantly evolving. Throughout history, advances in technology have transformed the way people carry out their jobs. For example, by automating more physically demanding tasks in factory production lines, to giving us more options to work from home. The rise of generative AI technologies has improved efficiency and productivity by streamlining repetitive tasks like data processing.

It’s not just technology that’s changing the world of work. People are living longer and as a result, many are working in their later years. Life is becoming more multi-staged – and with it brings potential opportunities to learn new skills, take a career break or even switch careers entirely. The traditional ‘9 to 5’ is also changing. 

Navigating the future of work may be a challenge – but an exciting one. Here are a few ideas on how you can adapt to the changing world of work.

Embrace new technologies

Generative AI technologies such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard and Meta’s Llama 2 could transform tasks from writing and coding to sales and trading. Already, four million people in the UK say they’ve used AI tools for work.While there’s some concern that AI might lead to job losses, a survey of 803 companies worldwide found that 50% of employers thought AI would create growth, compared with only 25% who thought it might lead to job cuts.2

The expanding role of AI in the workplace doesn’t need to mean that robots are taking over. Instead, consider how you can use new technology to your advantage. 

This could begin with improving your digital literacy to better understand how these technologies work – and how to use them effectively in your role. For example, ChatGPT can summarise subject matter at speed and at scale – so you could use it to help you write meeting notes and reports. The platform can also crunch numbers, so it might be useful for data analysis and forecasts.

In the future, there might also be an increased demand for workers who have the skills to develop, train and maintain these technologies. As such, you could consider building your knowledge of machine learning and data science. For example, the London School of Economics offers an eight-week ‘Machine Learning: Practical Applications’ online course, which helps participants apply machine learning tools and techniques to their business.   

Smiling man with headset looking at computer screen in call centre

Develop your soft skills   

You could also focus on upskilling in areas that a machine can’t fulfil and aim to stand out where AI can’t. Managing a team, critical thinking, empathising, collaborating with others – these are all essential soft skills you can develop that AI can’t replace. Systems like ChatGPT don’t have feelings and emotions – but you do. This is a key quality that sets you apart from AI. In a survey of 2,259 employees in the UK, 92% said soft skills are important for their career, and those with higher levels of soft skills earn on average an extra £3,600 to £4,600 a year. 

Creativity is also a key area where human workers have a clear edge over AI. For example, 4 in 10 people say they’d be less inclined to listen to music if they knew it had been produced using generative AI, compared with just 16% who say they would.1

There are plenty of opportunities for developing your soft skills. The Public Speaking Academy conducts in-person public speaking courses that help you become a more confident communicator. There are also various management and leadership courses available online, like the four-week programme offered by The Open University. These skills are transferable, meaning that they can be applied across various roles and industries – ideal for those thinking about how to change careers.

Finally, you could work on building your personal brand – how you define your expertise, market your skills and promote yourself in the workplace. This could help you stand out from the competition and advance your career.

Pursue chances to broaden your network – and your skillset

Opportunities to learn new skills might be closer than you think. If there’s a particular area of work you’d like to learn more in, why not ask your employer to see if you could spend some time with another department. It could give you a chance to develop new skills, build your portfolio and expand your professional network. Some employers might have official secondment schemes you could take part in.

Outside of work, you could consider volunteering for further opportunities to learn something new and meet new contacts that might be beneficial in future. Or if you have any hobbies or passions with the potential to generate income, you could take time to learn the steps to start your own business in retirement. This could prepare you with a potential new source of income in your later years.

Make sure you check your contract with your employer before taking on extra work to make sure you’re not breaching any regulations that could impact your main job.

Explore later-life careers   

People are staying in work longer. Between April and June 2022, the number of people aged 65 and over in employment increased by a record 173,000, reaching a high of 1.468 million.4

If you’re considering retiring at a later age, it’s important to think about the types of roles you could take up in your senior years. Jobs that require face-to-face interaction like teaching will likely stand the test of time. They can also help keep you active physically, mentally and socially. Can you give yourself a head start and start preparing for a later-life career in these industries? 

Embracing change   

The world of work is continually changing, sometimes more rapidly than we realise. You can prepare by planning ahead, being adaptable and – perhaps most importantly – be willing to embrace change. 

Want to learn more about a longer, multi-stage life? Read our article, Could you live to 100? What the Second 50 means for you.

  1. More than four million people in the UK have used Generative AI for work. Data source, Deloitte. Research from 4,150 respondents between May and June 2023, 14 July 2023.
  2. The future of jobs report 2023. Data source, World Economic Forum. Research from 803 companies between November 2022 and February 2023, 30 April 2023.
  3. Essential skills tracker 2023, page 6. Data source, SkillsBuilder Partnership. Research conducted by YouGov with 2,259 respondents in November 2022.
  4. People aged 65 years and over in employment, UK: January to March 2022 to April to June 2022. Data source, Office for National Statistics. Research from 40,000 households in 2022, 12 September 2022. 


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