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It’s time to think about the #FutureofWork, or your business has no future!

02/05/19 Joseph Moore Consultant, R&D and Engineering

As the world of work continues to change midst of a revolution fuelled by technological advancement, changes in the employment market and as the demand of new skills, flexibility and resilience continues to unfold, today’s businesses must think about the future of work and evaluate the way they do business.

A century ago, supposedly no less than the United States Commissioner of Patents had remarked, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” How ironic! In fact, what Commissioner Charles Duell actually said back in 1902 was quite the opposite.

 

He stated, “In my opinion, all previous advances in the various lines of invention will appear totally insignificant when compared with those which the present century will witness.” Most of us would probably agree. What “wonders” will those be? What new factors may influence the nature of how we approach problems and develop solutions as an engineering and high-tech community?

Technology has shifted the societal framework by lengthening our life spans, enabling people to communicate in ways unimaginable in the past, and creating wealth and economic growth by bringing the virtues of innovation and enhanced functionality to the economy in ever-shorter product development cycles. Furthermore, with an ageing population, the need to create new inventions and discover scientific breakthroughs to help improve the lives of people, together with global competition for new technology will open up the UK’s and European high technology and electronics jobs market.

The last fifteen to twenty years has seen amazing changes in the way that we consume information, the change in shopping habits as well as the way that we access entertainment. The need for instant access is taken for granted. The connectivity of the internet combined with our fast-paced lifestyles has fuelled these changes in behaviour.

While the role of engineering is still of prime importance, the impact of societal attitudes and politics reminds us that the ultimate use of a new technology and the pace of its adoption especially in the workplace are not always a simple matter.

We are likely to see new technical jobs emerge in light of artificial intelligence and the changes that are taking place at the moment. Global competition, growing economies and the changes in logistics and transport have made the world a smaller place. We are all connected through the internet and can work remotely and communicate with ease across the globe. We’re competing globally crossing nations and boundaries of race, culture and religion. Companies can now select candidates based on talent with a view to training later.

We ask Joseph Moore, Redline’s R&D and Engineering Recruitment Consultant about the challenges technology businesses will face and how companies must adapt in order to secure the brightest talent and safeguard the future of their business.

“We see every successive generation of engineers enter a world that innovates faster, by collectively leveraging tools and knowledge from their predecessors. Businesses face many challenges currently including the need to upskill the current generation of young people to meet industry's demands,” says Joseph. “New competencies and skills such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) including the technological know-how to understand the fast-paced changes that are taking place. This includes the introduction of artificial intelligence into the labour market. We can see this already in the early stages in sectors such as the military, defence, medical research, manufacturing, and space exploration.

Career-jumping and diversifying throughout the working life will be commonplace. The place of work is no longer 9-5 set hours, it’s flexible, adaptable yet it can have a huge impact on work-life balance. The need to respond and meet set targets and deadlines, to perform constantly to a high standard will be necessary if employees want to progress and to sustain employment.

Existing engineering job roles have been affected by these changes more than almost any other profession. Previously, engineers were mainly desk bound, ploughing through hundreds of journal articles and technical documents to find the right data for a given project. Often decisions were made in isolation with very little collaboration with colleagues. However, in the ‘smart’ digital age, this is no longer the case . Today, design engineers are more collaborative and able to manage projects remotely or on-site rather than from the office, with instant access to an overwhelming amount of information at their fingertips.

The future of work

It was Stephen Hawkings in 2007 that said, ‘Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change’ and this quote has never been more relevant than in today’s society.

Robots and software are allowing businesses to rethink the jobs and careers that humans can and should do, whilst big data gives us insight into analysing how businesses want their workforce to work. Collaboration platforms give us the ability to connect people and information together anywhere, anytime and on any device.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning, cloud-based and quantum computing, additive manufacturing, nanofabrication and advanced automation — these disruptive technologies are already impacting every industry. Although concerns about job loss due to automation are not without merit, these technologies are also poised to open up entire new fields of study and employment never before conceived.

As we will increasingly live and work in a world where unrelated devices and processes must interact with each other, the future of engineering will necessarily encompass mechanisms to acquire just-in-time knowledge across a wide range of domains and disciplines. Engineering students will be taught the value of finding and validating this information quickly. Agile knowledge acquisition could be a major determinant of their future success.

 “In the competitive global market that the digital age has created, engineers are under even more pressure to be productive,” says Joseph. “The decisions that engineers make every day increasingly impact our world, environment and the sustainability of our future. Information providers can meet this challenge by delivering content that is highly searchable and interactive, surrounded by insightful analytics and decision support tools, and integrated with other key engineering applications, helping them overcome engineering challenges and improving outcomes. Unless employers are willing to invest in the right information and technical tools that can enable engineers to accomplish these tasks, their vital work will go unfulfilled and their talent wasted."

"There is going to be a huge change, comparable to earlier industrial revolution. Robots and intelligent computer systems are going to have a far more dramatic impact on the workplace than the internet. The revolution is coming, and technological advances will naturally gravitate towards sectors such as engineering and manufacturing. One thing for certain is that today’s businesses will need to be flexible, resilient and open to new ways of working and learning if they are to thrive in a competitive and candidate-driven market.”

What separates top performers from everyone else in engineering and technical job roles are the competencies they possess and use to achieve great results.

The World Economic Forum found there are 10 critical job skills that will be in demand for the future job market.  Four of these skills will be particularly relevant to the high-technology and engineering sector:

  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Critical Thinking
  • Creativity
  • People Management

To find out more on how competency-based interviews can help you identify these skills and hire the very best engineers, please download our most recent research here 

What will the future of work and engineering look like? It will place a much higher value on information rather than on data. The ability to quickly find, validate, and leverage interdisciplinary knowledge will be a critical challenge for many engineers and engineer-entrepreneurs

For further information on Engineering and Technical jobs,  in high technology and electronics environments, click here, please contact Joseph Moore on 01582 878869 or send an email to JMoore@RedlineGroup.com.