2024 is almost here, minus the cheer. The past year hasn’t been great for professionals, with layoffs dominating the news across sectors, companies and countries. These challenges will continue in the new year. With sustained talk of an impending recession, bigger companies are chasing efficiency over growth and, hence, cutting costs. Startups are concerned about surviving a ‘funding winter’. These economic cycles are temporary and the direction will reverse in due course. However, the changes in technology and society are irreversible, and their impact on businesses and jobs will be long-lasting. Let’s look at the key career trends for 2024.
Layoffs and loyalty
The current economic trend has led to a focus on costs across small and big companies. Job insecurity is higher now than at any other time, except during the pandemic. Your company would have seen some workforce reduction, or at least a hiring freeze, with no replacements. The professionals who have lost jobs are taking much longer to find new roles. In 2024, there will be more unemployed graduates competing for open vacancies since campus placement is facing one of the most challenging seasons. This also means that company loyalty will continue to rise. Managers will prefer to retain their best team members than risk a hiring freeze or an expensive replacement. Professionals will prefer to stay longer than face rejection and employment gaps. This means reduced churn, fewer promotions and good increments only for the best performers.
Rise of gen AI, new tech
Old roles will disappear and currently ‘unknown’ new roles will be created. The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report for 2023 forecasts 23% job churn by 2027. Half of these jobs will be lost due to replacement by new and frontier technology. The other half will be new jobs created due to the impact of technology on businesses, need for technology domain specialists, and the rise of tech-induced service layer. The report highlights that 44% of core skills will be disrupted and 60% of all professionals will require re-training in the same time frame. What this means is that both generative AI and new technologies are changing expectations from your current role. You will need to upgrade or add new skills to stay relevant. Whether you are in a job or not, seek training opportunities and exposure to projects using new technologies in your domain and industry.
While new technology is pushing boundaries, digitisation is the growth, access and penetration of technology in all sectors and across all geographies. This accelerating trend has become the single largest and constant disruptor of existing businesses, where companies are responding to the need for digitisation among customers, competitors and market stakeholders. This affects everything, from discovery and purchase to delivery of goods and services. What it means in 2024 is that the number of people in manual processes will be reduced and replaced by people with different skill sets, who are either technical specialists or are comfortable with the new digitised processes and data. More jobs may be created than disrupted, but not for the same skills or people. Watch out for what is changing in your company and where you need to be.
Colour me green
Green is the color of both sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG). The focus on going green will be a major contributor to new job creation in 2024 because of investments in increasing sustainability in existing manufacturing and service delivery processes. New regulatory requirements and application of ESG standards means companies will continue to invest in these areas to create new teams, roles and processes. Though some jobs will be made redundant, the new roles will drive job growth in many manufacturing and non-service sectors, and a few services too. What it means for you is that while the impact of new technology and digitisation is more obvious, the sustainability trend is equally powerful and will change the way your company does business. Look out for evolving opportunities within and decide whether you want to lead the change.
Changes at the workplace
Gen Z, alternative work arrangements, inclusiveness, mentoring and mental health will change your workplace and its practices faster than ever before in 2024. As Gen Z enters the workforce in increased numbers, the environment will change to include their needs and impact. The existing trend of inclusiveness will be accelerated by Gen Z’s beliefs, and you can expect greater diversity in your team. Skills will matter more than education in hiring because of changing technologies and dilution in examinations during the pandemic. The professionals who want to progress and avoid redundancy will increasingly seek out mentors and training opportunities. With cost-cutting, companies have reduced their real estate footprints and hiring of permanent staff. This means greater diversity in work arrangements in the same office—permanent, temporary, contract, consultant, gig, hybrid, work from home and return to office. The only thing you can rely on is change. As mental health is being recognised, expect 2024 to permit more mental health breaks and sabbaticals without harming individual careers.
SKILLS YOU NEED
1.KNOW YOUR TECH
Being tech-savvy is no longer a good-to-have ability. It is an essential skill at the workplace and a hygiene factor for selection. Master the technology platforms being used in your office. Be comfortable with spreadsheets and presentations. While learning a new technology, follow a three-step process of mastery— accuracy, speed, power.
2.ART OF NARRATIVE
In a world of data and excessive information, your team and manager do not have the time to decode your work. Can you make sense of it all and explain it to everyone? What is the story behind the numbers? What does it mean for us? Learn the art of narrative from master story tellers at work and improve relentlessly.
Skill beats experience beats education. In a rapidly shifting job market, experience matters more than certificates. For new roles or tech, where experience is not available, new skills will rule the roost. You will soon be left behind by the new hires if you are not constantly learning and re-learning on the job and outside it.
4.THE TEAM DREAM
The modern soldier is more valuable than the gladiator of Roman times. The person who can work well in a team is needed more than a lone wolf. The most successful people in your team usually have superior people skills. Learn from them to grow into a team player first, and then an effective team leader, to survive and succeed.
5.MASTER YOUR MIND
Your ability to control and focus your mind is a life skill in the new age of burnout and mental stress. Reduced job security and rapid irrelevance of work skills has made it easier to feel helpless and anxious in life and at work. Experiment with exercise, mindfulness and meditation to build mental muscle for stability, peace and effectiveness.
The Author is WRITER,FOUNDER & CEO, SALARYNEXT.COM, A JOB LOSS ASSURANCE COMPANY.