The future of spoken language and the future of work?

What I can see happening in London and in Colombo within years is a progressive migration out of these capital cities, to outlying towns, as staff and workers will no longer need to live there for work purposes.

by Victor Cherubim

The beauty of the English language is the fact that to keep pace with the idiom, we must be adept with its vocabulary. Need I say, we in Sri Lanka think of the Queen’s English, as if it was set in stone. There is the evolutionary aspect of its spoken and written word. Other than malapropisms, there is the continued change in the usage, or the way words and expressions are scribed or in fact spoken.
What exactly is the big deal of the way English is written and spoken? Many of you can teach me “Twitter” or connect in “LinkedIn” or even “Tik ToK” But how many of you know the latest use of anagrams like “WFH” (Work from Home), TTI (Test, Trace, Isolate) or “WTGIF” (Way to get in front) or “LM” (Lead Magnet).

Jobs, jobs, jobs

The issue today as far as the use of the language for jobs search, you need to be conversant how English is used on social media platforms and is interpreted and read by AI (Artificial Intelligence) in the jobs market

We hear of so many Apps in the market to apply for jobs. You need to attract, connect, and really sell your CV to your prospective employer(s). The days of sending your CV with all your educational qualifications, experience, skill sets, and references is long gone. Today you need a “Lead Magnet” to entice your prospective employer to target you and pick you for the vacancy on offer. We hear of many hundreds of applicants searching for one job. You must convince the “technology” that you are the most suitable candidate for the post hardly advertised, but you have researched, and which is on offer. Competition is so great with employer selection procedures that AI matches you instead of the human Personnel Manager, who you had to convince in the past of your ability and capability.

Savvy with modern ways of recruitment

There is a significant overlap between workers who are vulnerable to lose their jobs in the forthcoming global recession and those who are likely to do so in future due to technology like AI and automation.

What I think happened when I came to Britain over 50 years ago and what is happening in the workplace today can hardly be considered similar? I started work at 8.30 am and worked till 4.45 pm in a Shipping Office, then at 5 p.m. I attended Lyons Tea Shop and progressed or rather was promoted from Attendant to Chief Cook until 7.30 p.m. I then attended City of London College at 8 p.m. to 10 continue studying for my Shipbrokers professional qualification. It was an experience I never forgot. No doubt, I was tired, but I enjoyed the flexibility of work.

The Future of Work

Everyone wanting a job today must be ready and prepared for the “future of work”. The impact on people as workers, and place of work, or offices has moved from a distant hypothetical, to a very immediate priority.

We are warned that the GDP in the UK will fall by a conservative figure of 9 % in 2020. This translates to about 7.6 million people (workers) are under threat of being laid off, remaining in furlough, which option is highly unlikely as the Chancellor of Exchequer has stated it will end on 31 October 2020, or more likely having their hours and pay cut.

The risks are high impact on workers with the lowest incomes. In fact, nearly 50% of all “at risk jobs, “are in occupations earning less than £10 per hour, mainly found in already hard-hit sectors of the economy, such as hospitality, retail and construction.

If we look beyond COVID-19, researchers suggest that the future of work, particularly for women and for a variety of different skills and talent categories, patterns of recruitment may become even more divergent in the future.

We note, of course, the future of work is not taking place right here and now, but is bound to anticipate or happen in the months and the year ahead

Those most at risk of job loss?

Most affected as per research, are those who will be in jobs prone to automation, particularly, white collar jobs, particularly, at entry level.

Some other researchers maintain they are seeing businesses collapsing across a range of industries every day, which means people are losing their jobs at all levels, and that is not linked to technological advancement.

What can we see as some of the trends in the workplace in Sri Lanka?

We can anticipate some aspects of COVID 19 and other aspects of technological advancement, both to accelerate in Sri Lanka. Perhaps, like in UK there could be the influx of contract workers, but not as bad as the “hire and fire” work practices in the West.

One thing we may anticipate is work whenever, wherever, and however you want, taking shape. Of course, this affords flexibility, but many will find it hard to manage their time, and indeed their individual “freedoms”.

Thus, time management and money management will become important.

Most at risk is the amount and size of the so called, “office,” with the long-term strategy being the location of the office.

What I can see happening in London and in Colombo within years is a progressive migration out of these capital cities, to outlying towns, as staff and workers will no longer need to live there for work purposes.

People are already adjusting to remote working. Another way of adjustment is the idea of variable workforce, a mix of permanent, part-time, and contingency workers to tackle job projects, causing a redesign of jobs soon.

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