ManpowerGroup, Walmart, and Mastery. What do they have in common?
How do you thrive in an economy where so many jobs are becoming obsolete? Even as the economy grows and the “reported” unemployment rate drops, mass job cuts continue. Let’s start by looking at what is happening, then what you might do about it.
Last week, Milwaukee-based ManpowerGroup, announced they will eliminate 150 jobs at their corporate headquarters over the next 12 months as they “automate and digitize” their business. The company statement read, "Like many organizations, we are investing in technology to deliver the competitive solutions our customers expect. Automation and new technologies reduce the need for manual business processes, which impact certain jobs and skill sets.”
Manpower’s layoff is a yet another example of how companies are reshaping their workforce to take advantage of advances in technology. A similar layoff is underway at Walmart, where they are cutting as many as 7000 accounting and invoicing positions (WSJ). Venturebeat.com reported recent layoffs at Microsoft, IBM, Twitter, Intel, and Autodesk. The list goes on and on.
More effective use of technology has been a key factor in the elimination of jobs in the service sector. Superior system integration, cloud computing, and smarter systems are accelerating this trend. The news is full of articles about a future defined by machine learning, artificial intelligence, and self-driving cars. Books like The Rise of the Robots, by Martin Ford, and Thank You for Being Late, by Thomas L. Freidman, offer staggering statistics and frightening examples. A recent Bullhorn survey of staffing companies revealed that demand for Artificial Intelligence engineers increased 200% during the past year.
This is good news if you are on the right side of the education curve. Last year the US economy generated 5.9 million new jobs (a record high) but filled only 5.2 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.) A good portion of the 700,000 unfilled jobs results from a skills gap.
Last month, Manpower’s CEO, Jonas Prising, said at the Staffing Industry Analysts’ Annual Executive Forum, the skills gap is having an adverse impact on the US economy. He went on to speculate that the future of the staffing industry might well be workforce development and training, not placements.
I discussed the game-changing impact of technology in "Eight Trends Usher in the Age of Mastery," on LinkedIn on February 4th, 2017. “Technology is giving skilled workers more tools with which to express their creativity," I wrote, "enabling them to collaborate quickly with other like-minded hyper-specialists. Technology is liberating the genius of new-age artisans, empowering people from all walks of life to re-imagine their future. On the other hand, technology is replacing low-skilled, low-value (and repetitive) jobs.”
New skills and capacities are required at all levels—from the boardroom to the stockroom. Whether you are a Baby Boomer, Generation X, or Millennial, the challenge is the same—we live in a world where “good enough” just isn’t good enough any longer. Gone are the days when basic competency sufficed. In this world, we must be our most brilliant self.
So what can we do about it? How can we go from surviving to thriving in the face of such challenges?
The only viable choice is to walk the path of Mastery. To choose Mastery is to surrender to a purpose-driven journey of learning and growing. We start as Beginners, learning by rote, memorizing without judgment, and having no responsibility. In time, and with effort, we progress from Novice to Competent. With diligence, we become Experts. Finally, we reach Mastery—we have fully integrated all the lessons, developed an intuitive command of our skills, absorbed deep knowledge in our domain. We see the big picture and what is possible. We find solutions to problems that redefine our world.
On the path of Mastery, we are life-long learners. Picasso explained it simply, “I am always doing that which I cannot do so that I can learn how to do it.” It’s not an easy path; it requires work, hard work. But on this journey, we find joy in the practice and struggle. We are exhilarated even as we face uncertainty. Like Picasso, we must repeatedly push beyond what is familiar and comfortable.
On the path of Mastery, even “failure” has a different name; it’s called “learning.”
My book, “Hack Mastery” and our workshops provide guidance for this journey. Our corporate and individual clients come to understand and appreciate the power of Mastery and relish their personal journey.
It is an extraordinary time to be alive!