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The Volatility of the Job Market

The job market is changing at a dizzying pace and more dramatically than at any other time in history. Everyday we witness the emergence of new technologies that are leading to significant changes in the way we live and work. We are facing such a ferocious and fast progress that organizations are being pushed to develop the skills of a workforce that does not follow the same pace of the technological development.

Unprecedented advances in terms of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, Internet, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, computing, among others have been redesigning the work processes, blurring boundaries, and creating new opportunities. This moment is dubbed by many authors as the fourth industrial revolution, already underway, which can generate major challenges to the human resources management because it can have significant impacts in what it comes to the relationship between the individual and the work and among people at organizations.

The first industrial revolution brought a wave of innovation by the invention of the steam engine which had impacts on the urban and rural areas, leading to the industrialization of the agriculture, the massification of the urban centers and education. It also made emerge a liberal economy without job regulations, with degrading working conditions and despotic job relations, where the most valuable skills were the physical abilities of each worker.

The second industrial revolution, marked by the development and mass production of the electric light, spread new social models and ways of working. Skilled workers with constant learning needs so they could easily adapt to the machines being used were appreciated, but they developed a mechanical job, physically strenuous and that did not require much thinking. During this period, all organizations’ gains were focused in standardized productions where the employees should demonstrate skills such as agility, speed, and a handful of hard skills.

The third industrial revolution, the digital revolution, which we have been witnessing over the past decades, breaks down barriers and makes the world more global by changing the concept of distance. With a simple click everything can change, so the information became more collective and it was necessary to familiarize the professionals to deal with the overload of information and learn how to use it. This event also motivated the creation of new models of organizational communication, both externally and internally, giving increased value to skills such as problem solving, negotiation, flexibility, adaptability to change, and creativity.

The fourth industrial revolution will drag systemic changes in the working structures and, consequently, in the professions as we know them today. With the work processes increasingly robotized, platforms that manage data, smarter systems, and less dependent on operator intervention, some professions are threatened and others will emerge.

It is clear that the need for talent in certain categories of work is being followed by the high instability on the skills to be developed in the future workforce.

According to the report The Future of Jobs, published by the World Economic Forum in [9], five million jobs will be lost until 2020 and one-third of the necessary skills to the job market will change due to the impulses of the fourth industrial revolution.

The use of technology has already changed when and where the work is carried out in almost all sectors of activity giving place to more flexible work practices, such as teleworking.

There are jobs that will quickly become irrelevant and obsolete due to the fractures that the advances in technology, artificial intelligence, nano- and biotechnology, genetics, and other trends in constant acceleration will produce, in the short and medium terms, in the consumption and production patterns and of course, in what it comes to employment. However, new professions will emerge surprisingly quickly and without an urgent action to manage the short-term transitions and build a workforce with adaptable skills to future developments, the governments will have to deal with the rising unemployment and social inequalities and organizations with lack of talent. Actually, this is already a trend recognized within the human resources management that is already facing recruitment difficulties due to the shortage of talent, but according to this report, it will tend to get worse over the next five years. About the concept of talent, it will be explored later.

Despite the fact that the change will not happen in all sectors at the same in the same way, it is certain that the impacts are collateral and they will be felt because the pace of the change is fast and waits for no one, which will force the organizations to be more proactive in what it comes to recycling their acquirements, improving their skills and managing their human capital.

If any certainty exists, is that organizationswill have to focus on talent management and on the reinvention of its workforce, especially in what it comes to the existing set of skills today as many of them will become obsolete tomorrow. The truth is that organizations should not face the fourth industrial revolution with the same bag of tools and the same way of thinking that made them get this far. It will not be enough. As much as they advocate, they will have to open doors to the human capital management that will have to concentrate its forces in the volatile talent management of different generations coexisting in the same organization.

In this equation, the senior talent should not be neglected, as the baby boomers are still present in the job market and it is important to take advantage of their wisdom and experience to build effective processes of knowledge management. Similarly, and although there are already being undertaken some changes in what it comes to education, they will not be sufficient and may still not impact in Generation Z, so it is very important for organizations to do not merely wait for the entrance of this generational group in the job market.

We all have talents, more or less visible, and they must be identified in each of the generations present in the organizational context. In order to build hybrid profiles that are able to adapt and adjust to different situations, it is important to get to know the potential talent and manage the diversity of knowledge, skills, and competencies.

It is also crucial to anticipate strategies and plan actions for this transition, as it is extremely important to know and mobilize generational diversity that necessarily will respond to different stimuli and motivations.

The management of human resources will have increased work on this demand to know the person as a whole. This process begins in the recruitment and extends to the integration, career, and skills management. Getting to know what makes people move, what brings them joy and satisfaction and what compounds their luggage of skills and the competencies they will have to work is the challenge of today and for the next few years. It is also important to keep in mind that the expiration date of skills is becoming increasingly shorter.

To conduct this task so that organizations will be able to capitalize the new opportunities presented by the technological development, it is necessary for the human resources management to take an increasingly strategic role and ensure a place at the table during administration meetings in order to identify the talent gaps and align talent management strategies. If that does not happen, how do organizations believe they will attract, develop, and retain their talent?

This is not about predicting the future, but about structuring the processes that will allow mapping the skills of the different generations and their different expectations, the necessary knowledge to the constant changing environments, understanding which are the current levels of certain skills and which profiles of competencies can and should be improved, so that human resources can add strategic value to the business model.

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