Lynda Gratton’s new research identifies the careers and skills likely to be valued in the next decade.
Even with my own three decades of knowledge about work, I find the future of work still incredibly difficult to predict. That’s why I created a research consortium designed to tap into ideas and knowledge from across the world.
Each year, my research team and I begin by identifying the five forces that will most impact on the future of work (these are technology; globalisation; demography and longevity; society; and natural resources). We then go about amassing the hard facts for each of these five forces. These hard facts for each of the five forces are then presented to members of the research consortium. This consortium is perhaps one of the most fascinating experiments ever conducted between management, academics and executives. In a sense it creates a ‘wise crowd’ of people. In 2009 for example, more than 200 people participated. They were members of more than 21 companies from around the world including Absa (the South African bank), Nokia, Nomura, Tata Consulting Group (in India), Thomson Reuters, the Singapore Government’s Ministry of Manpower, together with two not-for-profit organisations, Save the Children and World Vision. In 2010, the number of participating companies had risen to 45, with over 15 from Asia including SingTel in Singapore and Wipro, Infosys and Mahindra & Mahindra from India, and Cisco and Manpower from the USA.
The research began in earnest in November 2009, at the London Business School. At this point we presented the hard facts of the five forces and asked executives to construct storylines of a day-in-the-life of people working in 2025 on the basis of what they had heard. We then went on to repeat this exercise with many more people in Singapore and India.
This global research project is continuing. Among its most interesting findings is how it has helped us to identify the three broad career paths that will be of value (beyond those that are always of value) over the coming decade. These are: grassroots advocacy, social entrepreneurship and micro-entrepreneurship.