The Future of Jobs

22 March 2024
Martine Groenen Project Consultant Connect on Linkedin

We'll see. That's far from how we at TriHD envision the future. We're curious about the jobs and skills of tomorrow, changes, and challenges in the business.

Curious about the future of jobs? Discover insights in this article, based on a study by the World Economic Forum (2023), shedding light on trends that will shape the future workplace. Where do you envision yourself or your organization in 5 years?

Without delving into the study - which is also very extensive - it seems evident that 3 major drivers will steer the changes in jobs and skills in the next 5 years: full employment, sustainability, and technology.

Full employment: focus on retention and soft skills

The labor market is experiencing minimal unemployment, evolving towards full employment, with an almost 80% employment rate. This translates to a scarcity of job-seeking candidates for recruiters. Additionally, employees have increasingly prioritized the quality of their work and its contribution to their overall life satisfaction, focusing on aspects like salary, job security, and work-life balance.

How can we avoid pushing our employees away, leading them right into the arms of another employer? Attention to diversity and inclusion, alongside assessing satisfaction with both internal and external training offerings. It's better to cure than to prevent, making retention the ultimate priority in HR policy.

Shift to retention

Where the ‘war for talent’ was the focus in the past, retention will now take center stage in the coming years. It begins with emphasizing soft skills during recruitment, such as self-reliance, adaptability, teamwork, and resilience. These candidates are adept at embracing change and are driven to continuous learning. After hiring, we take it a step further. Pay attention to employee satisfaction, make employees feel that you have their best interests at heart, and invest in their development through upskilling and reskilling.

Need for upskilling & reskilling

Nothing comes without effort, merely mastering a specific skill set doesn't ensure lifelong readiness. The anticipated shift in skills suggests an ongoing necessity for training, upskilling and reskilling. While it's common to emphasize the importance of the right skills during job interviews, it's equally crucial post-hiring to continuously invest in those skills, both by refining existing ones and acquiring new ones. When evaluating your training offerings and discussing them with candidates, it's essential to be discerning. Are they genuinely advanced, or are you presenting a glossier picture than reality? False promises are counterproductive to retention. Therefore, a comprehensive Learning & Development plan is essential to continue developing the skills of tomorrow in collaboration with the right candidates who possess soft skills.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I)

Lastly, we have DE&I finally having a seat at the table and a voice. To put it simply, diversity means everyone is invited to the table, while inclusion means having a voice and being heard there. These concepts are gaining increasing attention, and rightfully so. Our research emphasizes the importance of DE&I programs in providing equal opportunities for women, youth, and individuals with disabilities, reflecting fairness and equity in areas such as compensation and job equality.

In the past, we've emphasized the 'war for talent', but moving forward, retention will be the main focus.

Martine Groenen, Project Consultant

Sustainability: impact on job creation and trends in ESG

Where we are not careful enough with the planet and seem to be tearing it down, sustainability has the superpower to create jobs. The increasing focus on sustainability and ESG trends predicts job growth, especially in the energy industry and infrastructure market.

Sustainability goes far beyond 'taking care of our planet'. Europe aims to assess the sustainability and societal impact of companies and organizations based on ESG standards. Predominantly, the ‘social’ component encompasses factors related to how a company interacts with its stakeholders, including its employees. This includes aspects such as diversity and inclusion, labor practices, human rights, and community engagement. HR plays a crucial role in steering your company towards compliance in these areas.

Technology: the train of the future and automation

Technology: a single word that instigates so much change, revolutionizing industries and reshaping the landscape. It serves as the impetus to ready your business for transformation, ensuring relevance and preparedness for what lies ahead. Key among these advancements are big data, cloud computing, and AI: terms that may seem daunting but are crucial for both individuals and businesses to grasp to avoid being left behind. As a result, we're witnessing a surge in roles like Machine Learning specialists, Business Intelligence analysts, and Information Security analysts. However, the digitalization and automation wave also exert significant pressure on administrative functions and sectors like traditional security, manufacturing, and trade.

Will AI steal my job?

Many people fear technology. An entrepreneur may wonder if they have the right systems, people, talents, and resources on board to ride this wave of evolution. An employee might fear that their job will be lost due to automation. We cannot deny that the rise of AI, for example, can be intimidating or significantly disrupt the job market. But consider this: as automation takes over routine tasks, attention shifts to skills such as analytical and - wait for it - creative thinking! So instead of worrying, let's embrace this wave of technology, learn new skills, and focus on our soft skills.

Key take-aways for HR professionals

We're addressing these changes collectively, taking the HR viewpoint into account. Jobs are evolving, disappearing, and emerging. You aim to develop the HR policy for the future. What are your priorities?

Your HR policy should include:
  • Focus on retention
  • HR technology
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Focus on retention

  • Recruitment & Selection: the shift towards soft skills dictates, that not only the strategies for training and developing people are changing, but also the strategy to attract talent is taking a different focus: recruiters should prioritize creative thinkers and doers who excel in adaptation and collaboration. Candidates who embrace change and collaborate smoothly within teams.
  • Learning & Development: the Learning & Development program is a significant factor for many candidates when considering a job change. It becomes a unique selling proposition (USP) for companies to genuinely showcase and deliver. If recruiters hire candidates with a strong learning capacity and a curious mindset, it lays the foundation to further develop the skills of tomorrow.

    Now that soft skills are more critical than ever, investing in areas such as analytical and creative thinking, leadership, and interpersonal skills is prudent. To meet the growing importance of technology, allocating resources for AI training and big data courses is also recommended.

HR technology

  • How does technology fit into the realm of HR? the role of HR technology in the digital transformation era: which bots, tools & systems support future HR policies? A vision, but above all insight is needed into how these new technologies fit into the broader HR plan.
  • What's allowed, and what isn’t? a policy is needed for the use of such tools within the organization. For which tasks is it allowed or not allowed to use ChatGPT and related sidekicks?
  • Change management: there may be organizations or employees who will resist new technologies because unfamiliarity sometimes breeds contempt. It is the responsibility of HR, among others, to facilitate this transition as smoothly as possible, through adequate communication, information sessions, and by providing the right skills and training.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I)

  • Awareness: there should be room to provide DE&I training to both employees and managers to increase awareness, and to apply those insights when hiring a new colleague, in their teamwork and team dynamics, as well as in their leadership style.
  • Skills vs education: allow greater flexibility in educational level. Often, during recruitment processes, certain diploma requirements are set. However, you could also consider a certain level of critical thinking as the benchmark. After all, the absence of a degree in higher education doesn't inherently imply a lack of potential success had the individual pursued such studies. Various factors may influence one's decision to pursue further education or not.

Keep in mind that every company in the Belgian economy must adapt its talent acquisition, training strategy, and service offerings to meet the evolving demands of the labor market. Emphasis is placed on cultivating soft skills, providing AI and big data training, and fostering a culture of ongoing learning.

Offering opportunities. Creating opportunities. Seizing opportunities. This is the essence of our approach at TriHD as we look ahead. We prioritize future-oriented jobs and skills based on insights and trends.