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A changing labour market

In this article, Heather Jacksic explains how the labour market has changed and how we might expect it to be in the future.
A hand draws lines between people in one group to another

The labour market is constantly changing and how it is today is quite different from how it was in the past.

If we look at the past, a few things stand out. In the past:

  • We “were” our education and were treated accordingly
  • Our job titles defined us to a much greater degree than today
  • Education essentially meant a guaranteed job after graduating
  • Options for women were much more limited. For example, many women were limited to professions such as being a nurse, a secretary or a teacher and to a large extent excluded from pursuing a career as an engineer or a pilot
  • Once hired, we generally stayed at the same workplace for our entire careers.

If we look at what the labour market is like today, we can see that:

  • People generally have about 3 career changes
  • You have to be able to market your abilities to a company in order to get a job
  • You have to have drive and you also need to be able to show it
  • Your reputation is very important – everything you put out on social media can affect your chances of getting or keeping a job
  • Your lifestyle can determine your career choices. If you want to work nights and weekends so you can have your days free, there are a lot of companies that will allow you to do that.

So that is how things generally used to be and how they generally are today in the labour market, but what about the future? Obviously, we can’t know exactly what will happen, but some things seem likely:

  • Several career changes will likely be the norm, or at least many more than today
  • 50% or more of today’s jobs won’t exist in 20 years due to automation and digitalisation. For example: Robots are replacing surgeons; online shopping and self-checkouts are replacing retail sales workers
  • Consultant and freelance jobs will most likely be more common and it’s even likely that there won’t be full-time positions like there is today.

You will probably be paid by the results you can deliver and not by the number of hours spent at the office, as is often the case today.

What do you think?

What are your experiences of the labour market changing? Do you agree with how things seem to be developing? How might your perspective and those of others from your country differ in relation to the perspectives of people from other countries around the globe?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

© Luleå University of Technology
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