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Reflections On The Future of Work From Davos 2019

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The theme of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos this year was “Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” With many governments, business leaders and global subject matter experts addressing these topics the events were all thoroughly worthwhile.

Career Tsunami joins these global conversations to understand and develop meaningful solutions to the new age work challenges:

  • What is Future of Work and what does it signify in a modern workplace?
  • Who owns the Future of Work?
  • How tech can personalize human experiences at work?
  • How organizations are going forward with vital issues like data and trust?
  • Diversity and Inclusion at the workplace
  • The unfolding of the new gig economy

Here are the insights from world leaders Jack Ma, Allen Blue, Muriel Pénicaud and John Flint on the Future of Work from Davos.

1) It’s smart to hire people smarter than you

This is the top advice from Jack Ma, Executive Chairman Alibaba Group Holding.

“When I hire people, I hire the people who are smarter than I am. People who four, five years later could be my boss. I like people who I like, who are positive and who never give up.”

The best people are optimistic and don’t complain, he says.

Ma noted that he survived the corporate world for 20 years because he was a teacher in his former life.

“You always want your students to be better than you, to be a mayor, not in prison. Rule number one: help people to be better than you are,” he said.

2) New collar workers are the future

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty says that as automation continues apace the skills gap and job insecurity fears are real.

“WHEN WE TALK OF A SKILLS CRISIS, I REALLY DO BELIEVE THAT 100 % OF JOBS WILL CHANGE,” Ginni Rometty.

But she argues the crisis is not impossible to overcome.

Rometty wants to see the development of a new education and career model: new collar, not blue collar or white collar. This means investing in skills development and responding in real time to the changing skills landscape. It also means breaking free from traditional models of recruiting those with 4-year and advanced degrees.

“We as a company are passionate that if we don’t fix this issue, to bridge this skill right now, at the rate it’s moving, you will have unrest,” Rometty said. “And so people have to have a route in.”

Watch the full session:

3) Recruiting women into technical roles will make machines learn more efficiently

LinkedIn Co-Founder and Vice-President of Product Allen Blue notes that AI and machine learning are becoming fundamental to how all technology is built, when one considers phones, banking and many other products and activities.

“It’s important, as we go forward, that we are designing and building that tech in the right way,” he says, reflecting on the inherent biases that many algorithms have because they were designed and built by white males.

Blue argues that technology can positively support flexibility of the workplace. It enables learning via online, video-based, non-real time learning. Certain technology also enables people to balance their lives, by working remotely.

4) Invest in training the youth and the unemployed

France’s Minister of Labour, Muriel Pénicaud, described her re-skilling programme, which includes giving employees 500 Euros a year to choose their own training programme.

“Today access to capital is easier than access to skills,” she said, noting the need for pro-action.

“Many of our citizens think they are victims of globalization and technology. When you are not in the driving seat, change is always a threat. You need to be in the driving seat, you need to be able to choose your future.”

5) Survivors of mental health challenges are good for business

Mental health was on the agenda at Davos with a number of discussions on how to break the stigma and create more supportive workplaces. John Flint, the CEO of HSBC, noted that survivors are assets.

“Those who have recovered often possess a resilience and resourcefulness,” John Flint

Flint wants to turn the bank into the “the healthiest human system.” He described this not as a fuzzy, feel-good effort, but as a question of performance.

Poppie Mphuthing is the Editorial Lead, Global Leadership Fellow at World Economic Forum.

This article was first published in the World Economic Forum. Additional commentary from Career Tsunami.

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