I have been reading a lot about the future of work, skill gaps, and companies having trouble finding employees despite approximately 8 million unemployed to fill the current openings or openings based on the way we will work in the future. So I used the way back machine to glimpse my past when I was the worker of this future.
In 1985, all the work I had done was going to high school, getting arbitrarily mediocre grades, and trying desperately to keep my quirks in check until I could graduate and go to college or get a job. The summer after graduation I got a job as a clerk in a branded convenience store. I worked on stocking shelves first, then was trained to work as a cashier. In the fall, I started my freshman year of college. It so happened that I didn’t do well at college but now I had some work experience so I went back to be a cashier.
Long story short, I spent the next ten years building a resume based off being a responsible low skilled job holder: cashier/stockroom clerk, kennel helper in a pet store (eventually sales in pet store), shipping and receiving in a fine jewelry store, pizza delivery. I enrolled in college during the fifth year. Around the sixth year, I leveled up (based solely on hourly wage) to administrative assistant, in an insurance company, a pain clinic, and a psychotherapist’s office. I graduated with a bachelor degree, ten years after I graduated high school.
I learned a few things that helped me when a career building opportunity came along:
- I learned how to get a job; the search, the choice, the interview, the rejection.
- I learned how to talk to people: disgruntled customers, bosses, managers, coworkers.
- I learned how to manage a variety of paperwork, organize it, create it, shuffle it.
- I learned how to direct myself through a 8 to 10 hour work day.
- I learned there were some things I didn’t want to spend my lifetime of work doing.
- I worked full time while I studied part time while I also hung out with friends so I learned time management.
My point and I do have one is that the worker of the future doesn’t come fully formed out of some worker vending machine, business school or incubator. Organizations already have the workers of the future all around them.