“Change is the only constant in life.” – Heraclitus
The world today is unrecognizable to the one that our parents and institutionalized education groomed us for.
I mean, that shouldn't be a surprise and it's pretty much beating a dead horse at this point, but here's a quick ICYMI-sampling from current affairs:
- We're quickly approaching the eleventh hour of climate change so if you need to repent any sins before the end of days, you’ll need to get to it within the next 18 months.
- CIVIL UNREST. An 18 year old kid just became the first one to be shot with a live round in the ongoing Hong Kong riots.
- Do mass shootings in America even surprise anyone anymore?*
“But what can I do, Aaron, when I don't even know if I have a job tomorrow?” –
Looks like everywhere you turn, the World is going to hell in a hand basket and when your environment is uncertain, you always focus on what you can do to survive.
Dan Pink referred to this new age of work as “The Conceptual Age” in 2006’s “A Whole New Mind”; arguing that creative thinking will be more emphasized in a world where A.I. will increasingly take over basic, repetitive tasks.
Analysis and recommendations outlined in the “The Future of Jobs Report 2018” white paper by the World Economic Forum tried to get a grasp of the rapidly-changing job market.
They refer to the changes we’re seeing across several major industries as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (rather than the “Conceptual Age”), and place the emphasis not only on human-based qualities like “creativity” but also on “roles based on or enhanced by technology”.
What I found most alarming about this report was that it was based off of a 2018 – 2022 timeline.
Meaning we're already seeing these changes and depending on what happens, the World of Work after 2022 is anyone's guess.
Couple of important quotes (emphasis mine):
You want people to be…proactive?
- “This report finds that as workforce transformation accelerate, the window of opportunity for proactive management of this change is closing fast and business, government and workers must proactively plan and implement a new vision for the global labour market.”
- You're asking for people to be “proactive”? That's a big ask. If you've done any self-development work, you'll know how difficult it is to effect sustained behavioural change in yourself, let alone convince one of the many disengaged minds** of the masses.
More and more tasks are performed by machines.
- “In 2018, an average of 71% of total task hours across the 12 industries covered in the report are performed by humans, compared to 29% by machines. By 2022 this average is expected to have shifted to 58% task hours performed by humans and 42% by machines.”
- NB. When the report refers to “machines”, it also means algorithms.
There's a 42% chance that your job will require new skills.
- “Global average skills stability – the proportion of core skills required to perform a job that will remain the same – is expected to be about 58%, meaning an average shift of 42% in required workforce skills over the 2018-2022 period.”
It's more likely that your company will replace you rather than retrain you.
- “In other words, those most in need of reskilling and upskilling are least likely to receive such training.”
Q: How is the current job skills-requirement landscape changing so fast?
A: Technology is advancing faster than it ever was and this is fuelling a faster rate of economic growth.
Have we seen these kinds of changes in the past? Yes!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I humbly present to you: The Printing Press.
Earliest evidence of the invention and use of the printing press was found in the Tang Dynasty of China in the 6th – 10th century A.D. and then further refined in Europe with a faster, mechanized technique to “transfer ink from movable type to paper” by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century.
Before mechanization, it was a slow and laborious process to press ink-coated wooden blocks of letters into paper.
The Printing Press was a massively important invention for mankind because it decentralized information and allowed ideas to spread between regions quickly and more cost-effectively.
“…for the first time, books could be mass-produced. A single press could churn out 3,600 pages a day, resulting in an explosion of literature and ideas unprecedented in history. “
Alongside this development, many new jobs and industries (i.e. Printers, Graphic Designers, Libraries, etc) were also created.
Created by individuals inventive enough to see the application of new technologies to solve current problems.
Individuals much like the prototypical “Renaissance Man” himself, Leonardo Da Vinci.
The Full Stack Digital Marketer is the modern-day “Renaissance Man”
The Times They Are A-Changin' and we need to adapt.
The Renaissance Man was believed to be “limitless in his capacities for development, and led to the notion that men should try to embrace all knowledge and develop their own capacities as fully as possible.”
Sounds like the kind of person that you would want in your corner, say, should you find yourself in the middle of massive industry changes. 😉
I'm not going to get into it here, but for greater clarity on the backstory of Leonardo Da Vinci and how he became the widely-revered, multi-talented individual that we know him as today, check out YouTube's Biographics.
(Funny enough, it's quite the real-life example of the Hero's Journey.)
In essence though, during the chaotic times of the Renaissance, when there were as many laws and social conventions to follow as there were opportunities to break them, Leonardo Da Vinci seemed like he was always just staying afloat – a hair shy from being a total abject failure.
Only when you look back on the entirety of his life, do you see the strength and courage he must have mustered to simply carry-on from day to day.
There was no grand plan for greatness.
For all intents and purposes, he was a practical man that did the practical things he needed to do to get the job done. Then when he finished with that, he tackled the next problem. And the next one.
And so on and so forth.
That special combination of both ‘breadth' and ‘depth' is exactly what it takes to become a successful Digital Marketer in today's digital ecosystem.
Digital marketing is based on best-practices that have been heavily-refined with experience in response to the algorithms currently in place for social media platforms, search engines, etc.
It requires a mental agility that owes its quickness to a understanding of:
- How and why these algorithms came about,
- What the new updates are, and
- What the platforms are ultimately trying to accomplish with these changes
All from the Platform's perspective, as a means to better the overall experience for their users.
Although the general principles of digital marketing come from traditional forms of marketing with TV, print, radio, etc., it's in the adaptation of these principles to the digital landscape that requires boots-on-the-ground experience.
Yes, the term “Digital Marketer” gets thrown around a lot nowadays,
but just like in every profession ever conceived by man, a sound understanding of the fundamentals of our forefathers combined with nimbleness in execution will allow any freelancer to bridge the skills gap and easily transition into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Time for a recap:
- Skills required for the job market will shift dramatically from 2018 to 2022.
- We're seeing these changes now and common sense dictates that this trend won't reverse post-2022.
- Your company will unlikely help because they can get faster, more-reliable results with new workers that already have the skills they need, when they need them.
- It's up to you to prepare for a future that is increasingly automated and algorithm/machine-heavy.
Let's be clear here.
One way or another, I'm suggesting you arm yourself with the right tools for the right job.
You have to decide for yourself what the “right tools” and “right job” means for you.
I can't decide that for you. No one can.
Taking on a new skillset might seem like a daunting task, but consider the alternatives:
To be irrelevant.
To be forgotten.
To be a burden.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb
There's never a perfect time to act. Only mustering the bravery and confidence to act now, knowing that whatever life throws at you, you'll be able to adjust.
Until next time,
*Take care of yourself first so you can take care of others. For a COMPREHENSIVE understanding of how to become a market-ready Digital Marketer, apply to our Full Stack Digital Marketing Academy.
References of Interest, not hyperlinked above:
- The Renaissance is cool!
- *Comprehensive List of US Mass Shootings 1982 – 2019.
- **Although Gallup reports 34% of U.S. workers are engaged, that still means 66% are disengaged.
- In the same vein, this Forbes article calculates how much disengaged employees actually cost a company.
- Livescience.com article on the series of modifications to the printing press that made it such an important invention.