How to future-proof yourself in a world of uncertainty

Industries and business models are increasingly being disrupted due to the rapid pace of technological, demographic, socio-political, and economic evolution affecting a complex, interconnected world economy. Unpredictable and far-reaching circumstances, such as geopolitical tensions and the COVID-19 pandemic, have also demonstrated the fragility of our existing practices and business models.

Preparing to enter the workforce in a world where volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity are the norm can be unnerving. You may be concerned about whether your education is adequately preparing you with the necessary skills required in the future of work (spoiler alert: your education will probably not be able to fully prepare you for what lies ahead).

At PSA, the company believes that uncertainties also present a set of opportunities which you can capitalise on, provided you are well prepared for them. Through relentless innovation, adopting a long-term view, and embracing continuous learning, companies and individuals can future-proof themselves and be well-positioned for the future.

Relentless Innovation

The rapidly-evolving technological landscape can render obsolete the skills which we have spent years acquiring. Yet, it also presents an opportunity for reinventing ourselves and ensuring that our value proposition is distinct from our competitors’. One way is to expand our repertoire of capabilities by considering how the latest technological advancements (e.g., 5G, augmented reality, blockchain, internet of things) can be productively applied in the work that we are doing (or will be doing). This means we must keep ourselves updated with knowledge of the latest technology as well as their possible applications.

Nevertheless, innovation is not solely about applying the latest technology – it could also be about making slight adjustments to the way work is done or seeing things from a fresh perspective, in order to do things better and create value.

Adopting a Long-Term View

Although events may not always unfold as you have planned, having a long-term view provides you with goals to work towards, and allows you to anticipate challenges and make contingency plans where necessary.

Start by keeping abreast of the latest technological, socio-political, and economic developments. Next, reflect on how these may affect the world and local economies, as well as the local job market – these will have an impact on your career prospects and desirability as an employee. Then, ask yourself the following questions:

a) What are the skills that will be relevant in future economy?
b) Is there going to be continued demand for [industry] in future? Will the demand be local or overseas?
c) What skills do I have that are in danger of going obsolete (e.g., replaced by automation or artificial intelligence)?
d) What are my strengths which can set me apart from the competition? How can I build on these strengths?

Your responses to these questions can guide you in planning for your future.

Embracing Continuous Learning

Companies are constantly adapting in response to the pressures of technological, demographic, socio-political, and economic evolution (described above). This means that the skills gap between what employees possess and what the company needs is constantly changing. Although most companies have training and development plans for their employees, taking ownership of your professional development and learning can set you apart from your peers. Remaining relevant in the future of work will go beyond your qualifications and will rely on your skillsets instead.

Take up courses to deepen your knowledge in your primary domain or build breadth by developing your skills in secondary domains. The latter will position you well for positions that you would otherwise not be considered for. Current students should consider broadening your exposure by taking up multiple internships, as these are good ways to develop practical and business skills. However, it is important to be judicious in selecting a company with a structured internship programme to maximise your learning experience.

For students, PSA offers structured internships where you can apply your knowledge to issues with a business impact – We think this is one of the best ways to learn!

Conclusion

PSA’s practice of pursuing relentless innovation, adopting a long-term view, and embracing continuous learning has helped us stay relevant and competitive in an ever-changing landscape. Looking ahead, they will be integral in ensuring that we continue to flourish at the regional and international levels.

We believe that these three practices will be useful in helping you set your course amidst a sea of disruption and uncertainty, and navigate through the challenges that come your way as you continue your voyage into the next phase of life.