It’s Time for “Now Gen” Skills
February 10, 2017
The explosive growth of new technologies is challenging our perception of how jobs of the future will unfold. But tomorrow’s transformations are today’s opportunities.
The digital revolution has already disrupted many industries, and there are a lot more changes to come. According to a report from the World Economic Forum, 30 per cent of our work today will need to be relearned within the next three or four years, thanks to rapidly advancing technologies.
Rather than waiting to find out what’s next, proactive companies and resourceful workers are getting a head start by making a commitment to lifelong learning and training.
“Nobody is immune from these forces of change and disruption,” says Elyse Allan, president and CEO of GE Canada, speaking at a recent Maker Mobile workshop in Vancouver. “It’s important that we understand these drivers and anticipate their impact on the future of work. We need to identify the skills and competencies required to adapt quickly, if we are going to succeed.” And that’s a call out to today’s workforce—the “Now Generation.”
David Du, a control engineer at medical devices company Best Cyclotron Systems Inc.
Michelle Sklar, vice president of marketing at Wavefront, a centre of excellence for wireless companies.
Bob Tuffs, founder of INTECH NDE, an inspection technology company.
Jennifer Flanagan, president and CEO of Actua.
Kevin Semple, a Maker Mobile Instructor with Actua.
Changing our focus from the next generation to the Now Generation often starts with creating workplace cultures that encourage and enable continuous learning, along with collaboration across a wide range of age groups.
We spoke with professionals from different industries about how their openness to new technology has benefited their work.
From analog to digital
David Du, a control engineer at medical devices company Best Cyclotron Systems Inc., says his job requires him to constantly learn new technologies, and then make those technologies accessible to fellow employees and customers.
“There are always new innovations, so you always have to keep in touch with new products and new ideas,” Du says.
One major switch at his company in recent years has been moving from analog workflows to digital platforms. “The benefits are more accuracy and efficiency. We have more powerful systems now,” Du says.
His company has also been using a 3D printer for a few years, for quicker prototypes of some of its products, such as handles and holders. “It’s a lot easier than going out and getting a part made,” he says.
From new tech to new behaviours
Michelle Sklar says adapting to new technologies is a constant in her role as vice president of marketing at Wavefront, a centre of excellence for wireless companies.
“It isn’t just learning the new tool, but adopting the new behaviour and incorporating it into how you do your work,” Sklar says.
Some of the more recent software tools are used to measure the success of a marketing campaign or making tweaks to a project.
Sklar welcomes the new technology, knowing it will help make her work more enjoyable and efficient.
“I’m used to having to learn new software for my job, which makes me less intimidated. Once you’ve gone through the process and learning something once, it builds your confidence,” Sklar says.
From disruptive to competitive
Bob Tuffs, founder of INTECH NDE, an inspection technology company, finds himself learning about new technologies on an almost weekly basis to remain competitive in his industry.
“Every quarter we are going through a fairly major learning curve with our company,” Tuffs says.
A recent example is remote visual inspection technology used to examine turbine blades in engines.
“It has been disruptive in certain areas,” Tuffs says. For example, his company now saves money by using digital tools to extend the life of engines, while still ensuring they’re safe to operate.
Tuffs doesn’t shy away from the change. Instead, he embraces it.
“It’s fun. I like learning,” he says. “Plus, I wouldn’t have succeeded if I wasn’t ready for change on a regular basis. You are able to use some of these tools to do better at your job, and it’s really worthwhile.”