Predicting the trends for the coming year can sometimes be a challenge. However, the consultancy firm, A.T. Kearney, has looked into its big crystal ball: the consultant has developed theses about the economy and society – in about 50 years – in a new strategy paper.
The study “Germany 2064 – The World of our Children” also looks at the workplace of the future. Automation and digitalization will play an increasingly greater role.
The future of the working world – Three types of company in 2064
The report quotes the Head of Nutrition & Health at BASF, Saori Dubourg. She predicts three types of company in 2064: 1. Mega concerns that have come out of today’s large-scale enterprises. 2. Relaxed associations that will be comprised of up to a thousand individual enterprises including many startups. 3. Today’s medium-sized businesses will find their counterpart in small, highly specialized high-tech companies.
The paper also predicts a rather positive change: Regardless of a company’s form in the future, its success will no longer be measurable based on its financial figures. A.T. Kearney refers to a study from the polling institute Gfk (“Global Perspective Barometer 2015: Voices of the leaders of tomorrow”) that looked at which career factors are most important to students at top universities. Almost every other interviewee named the social benefits that their work should have, meaning they want their work to have a positive impact on society. Only 14 percent named a high income.
Efficiency is important – but no longer everything
“We are observing a de-economization of trade. Efficiency is no longer everything,” comments Emanuel V. Towfigh, member of the supervisory board of the Freudenberg medical technology and healthcare group. “Values like transparency, trust, credibility, sustainability and social commitment are in focus.” The lawyer expects a holistic approach to the assessment of companies. The maxim of future managers ought to be: Do good!
This also affects how the workforce is assessed. “Training, experience and soft skills will be more important than job titles,” says Alexander Spermann, Director of Labor Policy Germany at the Bonn Institute of Labor Economics (IZA). This is confirmed by a study carried out by the Xing network in 2015. According to this, more than one in two people (51 percent) have already realized that “detours in the CV” are not an obstacle to being employed anymore.
45 percent of positions are affected by automation
Dr. Martin Sonnenschein, partner and Managing Director of Central Europe at A.T. Kearney, assumes that jobs in certain professions will be eliminated because processes and activities will be automated: “In twenty years, almost half of today’s jobs in Germany will be replaced by robots that can complete the tasks more efficiently. This demands a lot of willingness to change and flexibility from us. However, whoever has these can greatly benefit from this drastic change – as an employee and as an employer.”
Which occupations are most endangered
Referring to different sources (Frey/Osborne “The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation”, 2013 and the German Federal Employment Agency “Job Market Figures – Employment Statistics”, 2015) A.T. Kearney has created a list of occupations that are particularly affected by automation. More than 300, and therefore a quarter of all job profiles in Germany, are at high risk due to automation in the next two decades. 45% of all employees work in these areas.
The 10 top endangered occupations in Germany include secretarial, sales and catering occupations, and commercial and technical business management. Furthermore, the study assumes that robots will deliver post, take care of banking transactions and even cook food for people in 2064.
Which occupations are most secure
Dr. Volker Lang, partner at A.T. Kearney and responsible for the study “How will we live tomorrow?” points out that the changes shouldn’t just be seen as negative:
“There is no point in mourning rapidly changing job profiles. As the train was introduced, people said carriage and coach drivers were threatened. But the fact is, technological innovations and structural changes have always also brought new jobs and prosperity with them to date. Therefore, advancing automation will also open up new doors that will lead to new occupational fields with potential for growth.”
Therefore, it depends on using changes such as digitalization, networking and automation meaningfully and actively shaping the transition: “We can wait and see and let automation overrun us, or we can accept it with the courage to change – and search for new opportunities that result from this with flexibility and curiosity.”
On the other hand, some occupations – in particular those where empathy and emotional intelligence are required – will barely be affected by automation. These include advisers especially in social areas such as child education, healthcare and geriatric care as well as social work. Equally, company management, sales and research still need people.