Work beyond professional retirement in a technology connected world

The news and social media channels continue to tell us that many of our jobs will be taken over by artificial intelligence (AI). That may be true 10-20 years from now, but right now there is a positive aspect to these shifts that we should be aware of.

The fifty-plus generation has worked in a world where learning the steps and processes of operations were crucial to remaining relevant and effective. We understood and managed the steps. Computers started to track these and assist us along the way. In an AI world, they will be doing the work.

I am optimistic that the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) should create new jobs. Artificial intelligence is, ironically, a technology that could provide unique opportunities in attractive new work roles and may have the impact of allowing people to work longer and more flexibly across life stages in the future.

What is our human edge?

One of the greatest skills sets of baby boomers is emotional intelligence (EQ). This is not an easily transferable skill for coding into machines. The algorithms can do part of the work but will struggle with the empathy and other emotional skills needed to help humans feel heard and appreciated.

Imagine yourself as an AI Tutor, guiding and parenting the process to ensure that it embodies the human touch. This may sound weird but is already happening and industries will search for older, skilled industry specialists to do this work. Imagine the motor industry. Most of the work is done now by robots, but skilled people work alongside the process to tweak and align the work that humans once did.

I look forward to the day that business employs older people to be present when needed for those that need human input. It will be the older generation that is able to listen and help solve particular problems when the only other presence in the room are machines who do the work. Think over the last 10 years, how booking movies has changed. Yes, automated, but what about that someone to help when you stand outside a theatre and are not sure how to book through the terminal in front of you.

Imagine call centres that ask this question first: How old are you? If you are over 60, push 1. You are put through to a human, who can guide you and understands the questions you need answers to. These small changes to the process of AI and change can make a massive difference to a group of customers who will leave the process feeling valued and heard rather than frustrated and confused.

The world is ready for a demand economy where certain skills will be in high demand across different industries. Technology is being set up to manage the marketing and finance and offering opportunities for skilled people to choose projects to do right from home. A new platform called One Circle HR is opening later this year and is focused on people with HR talent.

Technology and a changing workplace are real. The challenge for older adults is to learn as much as we can to engage and to look for the opportunities on the horizon that offer this generation opportunities due to our wisdom and experience.

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