Future-Proof Yourself: Getting Ready for the Next Industrial Revolution

a man shaking hands with a robot

Welcome to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where cars drive themselves, artificial intelligence does most of the thinking in factories, and refrigerators can make grocery lists and order food. Hooray for technology! But like with previous Industrial Revolutions, this has meant a lot of change for the average worker. Because just as the invention of the steam engine, the assembly line, and the computer chip changed what kinds of jobs were needed, so too has the latest merging of technology and industry made for a dramatic shift in employment opportunities. After all, if a drone is delivering you pizza, what does that mean for the college student looking for part-time work? What will that mean for you and your job? It means you have to future-proof yourself.

This article is in no way advocating getting rid of all your devices and moving to a remote cabin in the woods. Nor is it espousing any tinfoil hat theories about Skynet and the inevitable rise of the machines. No, this one is all about how to make sure your job is secure when the next wave of technology makes aspects of what you do for a living obsolete. It’s about how to future-proof yourself and make sure that your place in the workforce is secure. Remote cabins and tinfoil hats are optional.

Be Ready and Future-Proof Yourself

It’s likely that the workers toiling away in the fields just prior to the invention of the cotton gin thought their futures where secure and that their skills would always be in demand. It’s also likely that they weren’t ready for the change that was to come. So be ready! And take these steps to future-proof yourself:

1. Be in the know about what’s going on within the company.

Strong businesses are always taking steps to prepare for the future. Be on the lookout for these changes. For instance, if your company is looking to implement new systems and technologies, volunteer to be part of the pilot test team. By being conscious of the company’s direction, you will be better able to prepare yourself for upcoming changes or reorganization. This also shows management that you are someone who welcomes and embraces change.

2. Stay updated with developments in the field.

Get out of the confines of the four corners of your office and know your own industry. For instance, the automotive space is expected to become more green, autonomous, shared, connected, and updated yearly. These trends are going to impact your company and subsequently your employment. Knowing them ahead of time will allow you to prepare and future-proof yourself.

3. Open multiple avenues of opportunities.

Look into the possibility of crossing from your current field to another by getting certifications and training valuable to both fields. For example, a Six Sigma Belt can be valuable in various industries such as healthcare, retail, and finance. It can also benefit various functions such as customer service, accounting, and human resources.

4. Hone your transferable skills.

Transferable skills are abilities that you can take with you no matter where you go. Abilities like customer service, leadership, time management, and research and planning skills are valuable across multiple industries and functions. Make sure that you find time to hone these skill sets wherever you are in your career. You can volunteer, ask for stretch assignments, and get certifications to polish these skills.

5. Re-tool, re-skill and refine your existing technical competences.

Especially in the field of IT, where technologies and expertise change at a faster rate, staying ahead of the knowledge curve is crucial. Programming is a great example. A report from Coding Dojo states that “None of the top 25 companies in the Fortune 500 use only one coding language for their products and services.” As a programmer, future-proof yourself by knowing more than one programming language.


Complacency is the Enemy of Employment

It’s an admirable thing to be great at your job. But change is inevitable—especially when technology is involved—and a person who spent their time honing their skills, then grew complacent as the best at what they did, will still be just another unemployed (or underemployed) schmo when Skynet makes a robot that will do their job more efficiently. Don’t be that schmo. Future-proof yourself so your job is secure.

About the Author

Imee Rabang is a blogger/writer and bilingual poet from Manila, Philippines. She is an advocate of Philippine culture and supports causes that promote language and national identity. She juggles her time between work, parenthood, and community outreach programs. She also dabbles in photography and graphic arts in her free time.
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