Work 4.0 as a catchphrase for work-changing technology may be new but is rapidly becoming familiar here in Germany. It is considered serious enough to support a federal study over the past two years.
Work 4.0 frames a dialogue over how we will work in the future. Specifically, how innovative technologies will change working life in future and thus influence whole societies.
If we believe the forecasts, digitalization within the coming decades will put the labor market through a far more radical change than that caused by the industrial revolution.
People are uncertain: which professions are endangered? Can I still follow my profession and earn money in future? Which professions will our children practice?
Politicians seek answers through large-scale dialog such as that conducted by our Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Companies and unions present labour models and the leading religions also chip in to urge level-headedness. One TV station has evaluated 4,000 job outlines and set up a web site to test the future ability of its own profession.
I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can examine the future of work changing technology against two stabilizing aspects from my personal life that have become essential: serenity and confidence
Serenity to Face Work 4.0
Within almost 25 years of my professional engagement as an executive recruiter, the death of my business has been regularly predicted, for example with the growth of online job exchanges and professional networks ten years ago.
The labor market, it was said, will need no more advisers to mediate between those who seek work and those who offer it. This mediator function would be taken over by software and consultants would become superfluous.
Nothing of the sort has happened. On the contrary! At least here in Germany, the recruiting business has experienced an unprecedented boom within the last few years.
The variety of job exchanges and professional platforms hasn’t made it any easier to bring people together. People want to communicate with people, not with machines.
So if I look at my profession and my line of business still further out, I don’t get scared. I will have a watchful eye, but look forward with a great serenity.
A second, even more personal aspect builds optimism in me for the future.
I come from a family of craftsmen, rich in tradition. My family has built and managed a workshop with great pride over several generations.
Around 20 years ago, serious changes started to spread through my family’s line of business. New trade channels were responsible for the closing of one traditional company after another. More than 80% of companies in this business ceased production and once-proud master craftsmen were forced to look for mindless jobs in the industry.
What happened to the company of my family? It still flourishes!
My family took note of the changes but didn’t put their heads into the sand. They invested in customer relations and perfected the quality of their products.
Lines of business may shrink and change but some things always survive!
So it will no doubt be in my own business. I am confident of being able to serve demanding customers in the area of executive search with quality and creativity well into the future.
That half empty glass
Optimism simply says the world doesn’t have to get worse. It changes. It always has.
But we should stay optimistic. The glass isn’t half empty, it is half-full.