The pace of technological change is faster than ever before. Each year new innovations disrupt industries and transform the way we work. For many, this brings excitement about the possibilities ahead. For others, it stirs anxiety about the threat to their job security. The truth is that technology is a double-edged sword when it comes to employment. Whether it destroys or creates opportunities depends largely on how we respond to change.
Embracing Change: The Story of Tom, the Adaptable Accountant
Tom has been an accountant at the same firm for 20 years. He’s seen a lot of changes in the field over that time. When spreadsheet software first emerged, some raised concerns that accountants would no longer be needed. But Tom took evening classes to master the new tools. This allowed him to work faster and take on more clients. The software didn’t replace Tom; it made him better at his job.
The same thing happened when accounting began to shift from paper ledgers to digital systems. Some of Tom’s colleagues who had always done things “the old way” struggled with the transition and eventually left the firm. But Tom signed up for training sessions and learned how to leverage the new technology. He helped the firm successfully navigate the change.
Today, Tom is leading the charge as artificial intelligence enters the accounting world. Some worry that AI will make the profession obsolete. But Tom is actively researching how his firm can use AI to enhance services and operate more efficiently. Rather than waiting for technology to displace him, Tom is pioneering ways to capitalise on the benefits it offers. He’s just as valuable to the company as ever before.
The Risks of Standing Still
While adaptable professionals like Tom thrive in times of change, those who resist adapting often see their roles phased out. As technology automates certain tasks or opens up new ways of working, stagnating skillsets get left behind.
For example, secretaries who refused to learn word processing software in the 1980s made their roles increasingly inefficient compared to those who embraced it. And manufacturers who didn’t adapt their assembly lines for robotics and automation have seen jobs disappear as a result.
Even highly skilled roles like financial analysts, pharmacists, and radiologists now face displacement by AI. The jobs most likely to be impacted are those where people simply do repetitive work that is easy to codify. By resisting new technologies, workers leave themselves vulnerable to being replaced.
The Key is Adaptability
As the examples illustrate, the real threat to job security isn’t technology itself – it’s resistance to change. Innovation will continue disrupting how work gets done. Those who can adapt to new tools and processes will remain valuable in the workforce. Those who can’t or won’t adapt will likely see their roles automated away.
Here are a few tips for being adaptable in an age of rapid technological change:
- Maintain a growth mindset. View learning new skills not as a burden but an exciting opportunity.
- Take inventory of your skill gaps. Look for areas you need to improve to stay relevant and competitive.
- Seek out training. Take initiative to participate in courses and certificate programs.
- Follow industry trends. Keep up to date on emerging technologies impacting your field.
- Experiment with new tools. Allot time to play around with new software and solutions.
- Ask for help. If you feel stuck, reach out to colleagues who can show you the ropes.
- Share your knowledge. Turn around and train others once you’re proficient.
Adapting your skills and embracing new technology may require some extra effort. But that effort is an investment in your job security. The jobs most likely to disappear are those that can be fully automated. The jobs most likely to thrive are those that leverage technology to enhance human strengths. With a little willingness to learn and grow, you can ensure you remain invaluable in our fast-changing digital world.