Working in the Future: Hyperjobs may replace traditional work

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The jobs of the future may require workers to develop a different set of skills to remain marketable and productive. Author Richard W. Samson, writing in The Futurist magazine (“Hyperjobs: The New Higher-Level Work and How to Grow Into It,” November-December 2005), contends that the future looks dim for traditional jobs. Samson points out that many service-sector jobs are disappearing faster than affordable housing in Southern California. Examples include grocery-store checkout clerk, taken over by self-service checkout stations; telephone directory-assistance operator, taken over by speech recognition and response system software; the work of airline terminal employees, taken over by ticketing kiosks; and the functions of middle-managers, taken over by increasingly sophisticated software applications.

No matter what the educational or intellectual level of the worker, white-collar jobs as we know them have become an endangered species, giving way to “hyperjobs,” Samson writes. The emerging hyperjobs will be based on five key “aliveness skills” and three supporting or enabling ones. The five key skills are:

• Discovery: Finding the “why” of things in science, business or daily life.
• Creativity: Fashioning something new in one’s head.
• Implementation: Making the fruits of creativity real in the world.
• Influence: Interacting with others to inspire, direct or empower them.
• Physical action: Interacting with things or the body in mindful ways.

The enabling skills that power the five key aliveness skills, are (1) basic mental skills, such as perception, classification and emotional release; (2) symbolic thinking and interpretation, including language, mathematics and scientific notation; (3) responsibility, including global consciousness, ethics and a religious sense.

Career success in the new millennium will depend on workers shifting their focus away from the list of things electronic intelligence does best and toward the things only self-aware humans can do, Samson writes.

If the future is in “hyperjobs,” what will workers actually be doing? Samson believes workers will explore areas where there are problems, such as the need to shift the world’s reliance on oil, and they will be compensated for solving those problems. The compensation could be money, but other forms of social exchange, ranging from barter to “time dollars,” are possible.