Thriving in the Ever-Changing Job Market

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Tuesday, July 18, 2023
By Hemachandran Kannan
Photo by iStock/Hiraman
Artificial intelligence, cyberspace, and pervasive social change are transforming the future of work. Are you ready?
  • Although changes in the job market will cause some careers to disappear, new opportunities will also be created in areas such as artificial intelligence, digital technologies, and sustainability.
  • Successful long-term careers will require not only strong technical skills such as computer programming and data analytics, but also soft skills in areas such as creativity, communication, and ethics.
  • The No. 1 factor that will determine success will be a worker’s commitment to lifelong learning and ongoing professional development.


The job market has always evolved, but its evolution seems to be happening far more rapidly. Three forces in particular are driving its transformation today: the emergence of disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the increased importance of cyberspace, and mounting societal pressures on business to address global issues such as climate change.

Current trends in the job market will cause some careers to become redundant and disappear. But the good news is that other careers will be transformed, and many new opportunities will be created.

Whether you’re a student considering your career options or a worker considering a career switch, you are likely wondering, what will it take to thrive in this ever-changing job market? It will largely come down to two factors: your dedication to developing new, in-demand skills as they arise and your commitment to lifelong learning.

The Impact of AI

Over the next five years, the widespread adoption of AI is expected to displace millions of jobs, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs report. At the same time, AI will create completely new careers in fields such as data science and machine learning.

This landscape of technological innovation provides you with a range of emerging new career options to consider. Here are just a few examples:

  • Data scientists analyze large datasets, use machine learning algorithms and statistical models, and identify patterns and trends in data, all to extract insights that can help organizations make better decisions.
  • Machine learning engineers work with data scientists to develop and deploy machine learning models that make predictions and automate tasks.
  • Chatbot designers design and develop chatbots that can provide personalized customer support, especially for industries such as retail and customer service.
  • AI ethicists identify potential ethical issues related to AI and develop strategies to address them.

Essential skills and attributes: Not surprisingly, if you’re interested in pursuing an AI-related career, you will likely need to become proficient in programming languages such as Python, R, Java, and C++, as well as understand machine learning and its applications. A solid foundation in statistics and probability will be essential for building and deploying accurate machine learning models. Data visualization skills will be important for understanding patterns and trends in data and communicating insights in effective and meaningful ways.

If you want to excel in AI, don’t forget to hone your soft skills. Take any opportunity to improve your critical thinking, complex problem-solving, communication, and collaboration skills and learn to take the ethical implications of technology into consideration.

The Rise of Cyberspace

Cyberspace—which refers to the interconnected world of computer networks, including the internet, mobile networks, and other digital technologies—has had both positive and negative consequences. On the positive side, cyberspace has enabled businesses to reach global audiences, provide 24/7 customer support, automate processes to increase efficiency, and enable many forms of e-commerce.

At the same time, businesses now must increasingly manage cybersecurity threats such as data breaches, hacking, and phishing attacks. The privacy and security of individuals and organizations is at risk. In addition, social media has enabled the spread of misinformation, and studies show these networks have been detrimental to our mental health.

Take any opportunity to improve your critical thinking, complex problem-solving, communication, and collaboration skills and learn to take the ethical implications of technology into consideration.

But cyberspace will only become more integral to our working lives. Businesses and individuals will need to know how to navigate and leverage digital technologies if they are to succeed in the modern world. This has given rise to the following new job roles:

  • Cybersecurity analysts analyze systems and networks for vulnerabilities, develop security policies and procedures, and look out for potential threats.
  • Cybersecurity engineers design and implement security measures, monitor for potential threats, and respond to security incidents in an effort to protect an organization’s systems and networks.
  • Ethical hackers test an organization’s systems and networks for vulnerabilities and identify weaknesses that could be exploited by malicious hackers.
  • Digital marketing specialists develop and execute digital marketing campaigns, analyze data to measure performance, and identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Social media managers design and implement social media strategies, create and curate content, and engage with followers to build brand awareness.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) specialists analyze website traffic and adopt strategies to improve an organization’s ranking in search results and drive traffic to the site.

Essential skills and attributes: To have a successful career in this field, you’ll need to understand computer systems and networks and possess a knowledge of programming languages, operating systems, and cybersecurity tools and techniques. You’ll also need to hone your analytical, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills to identify potential vulnerabilities or opportunities.

As an analyst or engineer, you’ll need to be able to communicate well with technical teams, explain complex concepts in simple terms to nontechnical stakeholders, and tailor your communication styles to different audiences. As a digital marketer, you’ll need to demonstrate creative, out-of-the-box thinking to design engaging content, implement effective campaigns, and develop innovative solutions to drive engagement and sales.

Professionals in cyberspace-related careers will have access to all kinds of sensitive information, so they will be responsible for protecting the privacy and security of individuals and organizations. That means you will need to know how to adhere to high ethical and professional standards and be committed to maintaining confidentiality and privacy.

The Influence of Societal Pressures

Companies are now under rising pressure from stakeholders to operate in ways that are environmentally sustainable, socially responsible, and economically viable. Organizations are doing more and more to improve their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and adopt sustainable business practices, creating career paths in emerging fields such as social impact consulting, sustainable agriculture, environmental science and policy, and green energy and the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The following jobs might be especially appealing if you are passionate about sustainability and societal impact:

  • Sustainability managers lessen an organization’s environmental footprint by implementing strategies that reduce waste and energy usage, promote sustainable practices, and monitor and reporting on progress.
  • Social entrepreneurs develop innovative solutions to social or environmental problems and start businesses whose success is based on both financial and societal returns.
  • Impact investors invest in companies or organizations that generate positive social or environmental impact alongside financial returns, and these individuals work with these companies to help them achieve their social and environmental goals.
  • CSR managers identify opportunities to involve employees in an organization’s sustainability efforts, support community engagement and volunteerism, and communicate the organization’s CSR goals and progress to stakeholders.
  • Sustainability consultants assess the current practices of their organizations to identify opportunities for improvement, develop and implement sustainability strategies, and monitor and report on progress.

Essential skills and attributes: To thrive in these careers, you’ll need to have a strong understanding of environmental and societal challenges, and you will need to be good at strategic thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication.

Successful workers will view their careers through the lens of personal growth and fulfillment. They will recognize that taking on new challenges is essential to achieving their full potential.

Additionally, you will need to be able to conduct social impact analyses and understand environmental sustainability. You’ll also need to be an ethical decision-maker. Finally, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of business principles, so that you can better balance social and environmental goals with financial viability.

Be a Lifelong Learner

The jobs listed above all require a wide range of soft skills such as adaptability, creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication. But the No. 1 factor that will determine your success in any of these careers is whether you commit to ongoing learning and development. Only by staying up-to-date with the latest trends, technological advancements, and evolving business models will you be able to quickly adapt to new circumstances, challenges, and changing job roles.

This might seem like a daunting challenge. But the most successful workers will possess growth mindsets—they will view their careers through the lens of personal growth and fulfillment. They will recognize that learning new skills and taking on new challenges are essential to developing a sense of purpose and achieving their full potential.

Prepare for Your Future

The forces described above will almost certainly reshape every industry—and employer expectations—in significant ways. But by adopting the strategies below, you will be in a great position to succeed over your entire career:

  • Take courses and earn relevant certifications on online learning platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, or LinkedIn Learning.
  • Seek out hands-on experience via internships, co-op programs, or volunteer work to build a relevant portfolio of work.
  • Frequently attend conferences, workshops, or seminars to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, emerging technologies, and best practices in these fields.
  • Network with peers, mentors, and industry professionals.
  • Join professional organizations to gain access to networking, professional development, and career-building opportunities.
  • Find mentors or coaches who will share their expertise and help you navigate new career pathways.
  • Pursue advanced degrees and specialized certificates in fields related to AI, cybersecurity, digital marketing, social impact consulting, and sustainability.

The degree programs and specializations offered by higher education institutions will play a vital role in preparing learners for the future job market. These programs often combine relevant curricula with practical hands-on experience that schools provide to students through industry partnerships. Most colleges and universities also give students opportunities to participate in faculty research projects, attend professional development sessions, and benefit from continuous feedback.

At my own institution, Woxsen University in Hyderabad, India, our AI Research Centre offers a Chief Technology Officer Certification and Data Technology Officer Certification, as well as short courses on topics related to AI and data science. It also sponsors extracurricular learning experiences such as competitions, hackathons, and workshops.

In addition, the center provides learners with access to platforms such as AWS Educator, IBM Skill Build, and nasscom FutureSkills; and it encourages students to develop research proposals and publish their work in reputed journals and conferences. The AI Research Centre provides the resources and support that learners need to pursue their research interests.

By embracing a proactive approach to your learning and skill development, you can take greatest advantage of emerging career opportunities and set yourself up for an exciting career.

Through the center, the university collaborates with more than 35 industry partners who help identify emerging trends and technologies in the job market. These partners provide learners with opportunities to work on real-world AI projects and network with industry professionals. Learners also can be paired with industry mentors through initiatives such as our Executive Fellows program.

To stay ahead of changes in the industry, the university regularly collects feedback from students, alumni, and industry partners. It uses that feedback to improve its programs and stay aware of new skills needed for the future job market.

Exciting Career Opportunities Lie Ahead

By embracing a proactive approach to your learning and skill development, you can take greatest advantage of emerging career opportunities and set yourself up for an exciting career.

The changes happening all around us are rapid and unrelenting. But all learners can succeed and make meaningful contributions in the evolving future of work—if they are willing to evolve with it.

Hemachandran Kannan
Director of the AI Research Centre and the Zita Zoltay Paprika Professor of Decision Sciences & Business Economics, School of Business, Woxsen University
The views expressed by contributors to AACSB Insights do not represent an official position of AACSB, unless clearly stated.
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