There was a time when the world‘s fastest means of communication was the fax machine.
Air travel was the fastest way to keep in touch.
An event gathering of a few hundred people was an achievement of ‘Influence.’
This was until digital advancements brought the world to our doorsteps and within our reach. Technology has arched from the traditional meaning of fast or effective to unimaginable levels of possibility now. The old world of work is being given a huge makeover.
Organisations have accepted and slipped into the ways of digital technology to achieve stupendous business expansion. By that token, middle-aged industry veterans separated by a hemisphere from their younger colleagues’ working styles, feel cut off. Coping with digital technology seems almost too much, coming on top of the aspirin defeating work pressures.
A recent survey reveals that about 50% of the workforce is set to soon become redundant because of automation and artificial intelligence. Much of this automation is like being on autopilot where traditional work is largely replaced by computer engineering and digital processes. So, what does one significant half of our world – industry veterans – do for work? This article will try to offer some suggestions.
What is digital technology?
Digital technology implies the use of computers and software development to solve business problems and make decisions. It also gives the big chance to connect with people across the world, instantaneously and at the tap of a button.
Non-human intervention looms on the horizon and from shop floors to stores, which is likely to replace people. The older workforce is one of the groups that’s most hurt by these titanic leaps in technology.
But middle-aged executives have a lot of experience and problem-solving abilities that can be advantageous to the work pool. This complements the natural energy and enthusiasm of younger colleagues. Most of the planning, projects, marketing, and research divisions use digital technology. It combines and analyses raw data to solve critical issues. Here, an experienced veteran’s instincts can also be useful for problem-solving. Real life experience can have an impact on the insights because data always has a pattern or tells stories.
The sales and marketing functions are most enriched by digital developments. Organisations need qualified people to work for these functions to stay competitive. So training the experienced professionals can make a positive dent.
Some possible avenues of work are as under:
Digital Marketing has now grown to become a huge area of employment, enabling tech and marketing savvy teams to collaborate with clients. Social media is globally used for services and product updates. Publishing is almost completely digital and slowly outcompeting print media. It offers readers a choice of reading and interactive experiences. Books, magazines, news, can be delivered to browsers 24X7. Almost all modes of entertainment are digitally produced. Promotional programs run on all digital platforms, helping reach millions in different audience segments; ranging from Africa to America.
Redundancy and unemployment are threatening our current corporate world. It would be logical to think of ways to face and overcome these threats. It’ll rejuvenate productivity by being inclusive of potential ‘retirees’.
Industry veterans can be assets
Thankfully, corporations and even smaller entities have come to realise that elder people are important to the business. Industry veterans offer life experience and vital real-life interpersonal skills. They just need to adapt to the modern technology, which in a way, is regenerative. It re-creates human assets and presents new opportunities for lifetime work.
Industry veterans have ample ways at their disposal to retrain themselves. I know of someone who retired from work but took time to learn new skills online. Today, he is a digital consultant to various clients and earns a comfortable living.
Most significantly, he has a sense of his own worth and people like him cannot be willed into oblivion.
But, it takes extreme determination to relearn. It’s not easy, but not too difficult either. The worldwide concern with re-skilling has led to linking technology to learning resources.
Some of the world’s best platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn offer learning opportunities for lifetime work. There is an amazing range of online resources to learn digital technology applications. These take between 6 or 14 weeks to complete and even offer real-life projects at the end. There are courses for veterans which, when completed, allow them to re-enter the workforce laterally and be relevant technologically.
The online development even enables one to earn certificates and recognition, which can be useful to flaunt if one is independent. The best of such learning modules are in sync with current trends. One needs to have the mindset required to learn and upgrade their skills constantly.
Online courses do not demand awfully long hours, but one has to keep a short leash on distraction. At most, a couple of hours of daily study are enough, but it needs concentration. Learning is hands-on and there is a strong practical orientation. One needs to complete and test certain learning sequences to become proficient enough to apply these resources to real problems.
Training veterans in the workplace
Once trained by the company, senior workers can help contribute to efforts of leveraging technology, reducing costs, hiring and expanding the business. They can even take on renewed team leadership for their one to one skills, patience and ability to solve issues.
Veterans can obviously do better than their younger team members in some vital areas. Complex problems are often not due to ‘glitches’ in algorithms or software. They often occur because of people problems.
The movie ‘Money Monster’ shows this really well.
In the movie, a computer ‘glitch’ is the apparent cause of a huge loss in the money market and to thousands of small investors. Deployment of technical solutions doesn’t help either. At last, some quick old-fashion investigative journalism helps to catch the real culprit – human greed. Field experience wins the day, even if the work – which is the production of a TV program, ‘Money Monster’ – involves technological wizardry.
The point is, both worlds collaborate and veterans need not turn away. We can swear by recent avatars of James Bond himself!
Industry hardened professionals are facing a world of opportunities. They need to make the leap. What do you think?