Job Loss and Career Transition – Finding the Silver Lining

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Transitioning Workers Create Hidden Talent Pools

Job automation is picking up speed, displacing workers and creating hidden talent pools in the process.

It is well known that jobs in some fields are disappearing or have already been retired as a result of machines.  As we discussed earlier, this is not a new trend.  A recent piece in The New York Times offers an interactive look at the type of jobs more likely to disappear, as well as jobs with roughly related skills.  For example, some jobs have more emphasis on physical work, while others are related by a greater requirement for critical thinking skills.

While younger, entry-level workers can move toward more AI-proof careers, experienced workers with significant time in the workforce did not have the advantage of the same foresight.  Many workers with 20 years of experience in a now-outmoded job are finding closed doors, a contracted lifestyle, and bills piling up.

For displaced workers with access to retraining programs, or employers looking for certain skills who are willing to retrain, the situation can be bright for both sides.  Displaced workers constitute a hidden talent pool of potential employees who are looking for work and have applicable skills—if they are provided the opportunity to adapt their skills and experience to a new workplace.

US worse than the rest for job loss due to automation

A recent report from PwC offers gloomy news about the risk of automated job loss in the US.

In a comparative study, the US ranks first among several large industrialized countries at risk for job loss by the 2030’s.  The rankings look like this:

  • United States: Expected job loss of 38 percent.
  • Germany: A close second with 35 percent calculated job loss.
  • United Kingdom: Only 30 percent of jobs are expected to be lost in coming decades.
  • Japan: Last on this list, Japan is expected to suffer less impact, with only 21 percent job loss.

Across industry, the PwC report suggests that those with higher education are less likely to be impacted by automation.  Yet in the United States, higher level financial, accounting, and analysis services are an obvious target for automation.  Already the crunching of Big Data into analytic bites is being handled by code. Anything with an algorithm constitutes better business through machines, a trend that is charging through the upper levels of industry.

Old jobs, new jobs

As old jobs disappear, new digitally-oriented jobs will appear, but probably not at a rate equal to job loss at present.

For HR professionals and recruiters, workers transitioning out of jobs they have held until machines came along could prove an answer to at least some of the current squeeze for talent.  Many experienced workers possess critical thinking skills that are adaptable to new types of jobs if the will to hire and retrain is present.

For hiring managers, transitioning employees can fill empty seats and boost retention numbers.  Having made the move, displaced workers are likely to remain adaptable as technology continues to reconfigure the workplace and their job descriptions.

Working with companies that are laying off outmoded workers, recruiters can tap into experienced candidates looking for work.  In either case, retraining offered as a severance package through a former employer, via a state or federal jobs program, or by a new employer is critical.

When you have difficulty filling positions, consider the skills needed and where they might truly be found.  Casting a wider net may help you find a hidden talent pool that meets your hiring needs.