The Future of the Labor Market: Dramatic Changes and Cultural Shifts

As older generations gradually exit the market, whole new groups of workers are beginning to enter. These new, younger workers have different expectations, different wants, and different desires for a job.

Today, workers aged 18-24 change jobs an average of 5.7 times. This is a dramatic difference from the two to three changes that the older generations would make.

When it comes to differences, this is just one of many. Another very big change is the growing popularity of remote work. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown inevitably brought remote work to the fore. Although years later, people still show a massive fondness for it. 32 percent of knowledge workers went so far as to quit their job because it wasn’t far away.

61 percent would go so far as to change jobs if offered a remote alternative. Employees today predominantly prefer flexible, digital work. It’s not surprising, either, since working remotely translates to more family time, more savings, and less hassle. In response, jobs are moving in that direction. However, this is just one way employers are changing to adapt to the new workforce.

changes in culture

Many of the other most prominent changes involve changes in culture. While older generations enjoy stiff competition and move up the chain, this is no longer the case. Modern workers tend to favor cooperation and validation much more. A workplace with highly connected teams and a lack of hierarchy is becoming increasingly popular.

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Another cultural shift is the trend toward employee well-being. Sitting down and grinding for ten hours in grueling conditions isn’t as acceptable as it used to be. Instead, comfort-focused workspaces with realistic breaks and even perks are far more popular.

Remote work at its peak

Small businesses that move away from the culture gain popularity after their demise. This is a side effect of the increase in remote work. By eliminating the costs of big business while still operating digitally, smaller businesses have a chance to truly specialize and thrive.

Remote work in general encourages more original and diverse ideas. The possibility of hiring employees across different states, regions or even countries brings new perspectives. People are now valued for their originality instead of being punished for it. These are just some of the trends emerging in higher-wage, knowledge-based industries.

Labor market overview

This is important to mention. While these changes can be really positive and noticeable, they don’t occur at all levels. In fact, they don’t even happen in the fastest growing labor markets. Of the 10 fastest growing job markets, six earn less than $32,000 a year. These are occupations such as waiters, fast food clerks, packers and low-skilled workers.

Jobs like this don’t really see many of these cultural shifts. The industry is too brutal and unforgiving to allow that. Even looking at the four jobs that make more than $32,000, not all would see these changes. Nurses, for example, work in a similarly stressful, unforgiving industry.

Fortunately, the other three professions, software developers, business owners and operations managers, and market research analysts are benefiting from these changes. This is generally positive, but it begs the question, if most people aren’t benefiting from it, what can be done? Fortunately, there are some universals.

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In general, employees who are more creative, versatile and emotionally competent are desired. The job market is moving toward a wellness-based, collaborative space, just more slowly for some. Technology seems to be the great unifier in this regard, slowly creating more opportunities for creative work. Although it’s inevitable that some people will be left behind.

This puts those who want to enter the job market today in an interesting place. The required skills and expectations can vary greatly depending on which field you are entering.

Final Thoughts

What should new employees be trained for? More soft skills to be well rounded or more direct skills to just get a job?

Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to the question. What is clear is that things are changing and that no matter what industry you are in, you should be prepared. That doesn’t mean changing your expectations completely. It doesn’t mean that you’re basically trying to revamp your resume and skills. It just means keeping an eye on the changes and not swimming against the tide.

There are countless ways the world is changing today, but few are as important as the job market. Unemployment fluctuates around the world, never getting too high or too low. What does a dramatic change in work culture and having a job mean? The factory workers of the 19th century had an experience incomparable to the workers of today. Workers in 2080 might say the same thing.

The difference is that there is the power to know about the changes and to adapt. Knowledge is power and everyone has an opportunity to be knowledgeable. This is the number one force in the job market today.

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