There’s lots of reports about the future of work, and the Australian Senate recently added its voice to the debate releasing the findings and recommendations from the Senate Select Committee on the Future of Work and Workers.

It was tasked with investigating the impact of technological and other change on work and workers in Australia.

A key recommendation in the report was that “The committee recommends that the Australian Government prepare and commit to a long-term plan to prepare Australian workers, business and the economy for coming technological change“.

Perhaps I am being a little cynical, but I would have thought that would have already been obvious. Planning for the future is always critical.

Futurist Noah Yuval Harari in his book Homo Deus painted a bleak future as he wondered what will happen to the many millions of people who will enter what he calls the ‘useless class’ as computers take away our jobs. While business leaders from Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, to Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates, have expressed concern about what these changes mean for workers.

We all need to be prepared for the future of work. The good news though is these changes never happen overnight. It’s incremental. A shift here. An alteration there.

This means that thriving into the future and being ready for the future working world isn’t about changing and throwing out everything you know. It’s about adapting and adjusting to a new world of work.

Think about it for a minute.

To change is to become something different from what you are currently. While to adapt is to adjust to new conditions and circumstances.

When you adapt effectively you are doing so conscious of the context of what’s happening around you, and therefore positioning yourself to have competencies, skills, techniques and behaviours that are more suitable to what’s required in the future.

This involves understanding each of those elements and determining which of them are transferable, replaceable and adaptable:

  • Transferable – directly applicable in another industry or occupation
  • Adaptable – usable in another industry or occupation once they have been modified in some way
  • Replaceable – likely to be industry or occupation specific, and therefore not as useful when leaping to another career

Throughout your career you will have constantly built your toolkit. What’s necessary now is to do a stocktake on the toolkit to make sure it’s equipped with the latest tools and that the old tools you want to keep are sharpened and still fit for purpose.