Whether you’re a fan of science fiction or not, 2020 has always been viewed as a futuristic date – a time when robots tended our homes, flying cars scooted around the skies and machines altered our views of the world. Now that we are here, it’s not surprising that so many predictions have come to life. 

These innovations, however, require workers to stay relevant in the workplace in a rapidly evolving global economy. It’s not an easy mandate. CNBC reported that one-quarter of U.S. workers are at high risk of losing their jobs due to automation. The European Commission has an even more dire prediction: up to half of all jobs globally could be automated. HRM Asia predicts that as many as 56% of workers in ASEAN countries could be displaced in the next decade.

For some workers concerned about job security, 2020 may be coming too soon. But you can stay ahead of the changes ahead by being proactive in your professional learning and development. More than ever, you should assess how digitalization, AI and robotics are transforming your industry, business and role. Gaining insights into how your skills need to adapt can help you remain securely employed. Furthermore, keeping your expertise and knowledge updated means more earning potential and career choices along the way

10 steps you can take right now

What are the most important considerations you should prioritize? Some steps will vary depending on where you are in your career, but a few are universally applicable. Some things you can achieve on your own while others may need to be supported by your employer. The most important thing to remember is to have a plan for continually upskilling and advancing your market worth.

1. identify how your job will evolve in the future

In just the past few years, many occupations have transformed due to technology.Consider the auto mechanic. Fixing cars used to mean diagnosing and replacing parts. Today, there is as much coding and screen time as swapping out shock absorbers and changing tires. The rise of cars as entertainment hubs requires mechanics to also become experts in broadband technology and video panels. How will the skills required to do your job change in 2020? Finding the answer should be a priority for you in the new year.

2. determine if your job will survive in the next wave of automation

Upskilling won’t help you if your role is eliminated by automation, as many in the manufacturing sector face over the next decade. Be aware of the trends in your business and specifically the human skills currently needed in your line of work. Question whether machines or AI can perform the same duties. Is your work highly repeatable and relatively easily adapted by machines? Understanding the long-term viability of your role will help you make important career choices now. 

3. consider how your strengths and expertise can be applied in a variety of roles

You may feel your career choices are limited due to the specific nature of your knowledge, but try to imagine how those skills can be leveraged in a new position. For instance, travel agents were once plentiful but the rise of online bookings has all but eliminated most of these roles. While their knowledge of navigating published fares might have become obsolete due to technology, their people skills – how to interact with demanding clients, persuading them to consider alternatives and general sales abilities – is universally cherished for any customer-facing role. You will need to figure out how your competencies can be repurposed.

4. map out a learning plan to keep your skills current

Once you have identified how your job requirements are changing or whether you need to change careers, create a plan for acquiring the skills needed for employability. Create a timeline for reaching your goals and the resources needed to fulfill them. Check with your current employers about available programs and tuition reimbursement.

5. make self-learning a daily activity

For many workers, the idea of enrolling in formalized skilling programs may be intimidating, so alternative learning approaches may be more successful. Whether you’re comfortable in a classroom, taking lessons online or simply watching instructional YouTube videos, look for ways to incrementally improve your skills and knowledge in addition to any additional formalized training.

6. develop coding skills

Until robots take over all tasks in the future, there will always be a need for programmers. Especially during today’s digital transformative culture, the demand for coding knowledge is only growing. Businesses in just about every industry are in need of talented programmers, and you will ensure significantly more opportunities by having this skill.

7. build on existing digital skills

Knowing how to code is just one critical skill set that won’t go away in the future; possessing digital knowledge is also important. Learning to use digital tools, applying analytical insights and even being a social media star can help you land a great, secure job. These competencies are valuable to employers who have or are undergoing digital transformation.

8. get certified in project management

A great project manager will never get displaced by technology. Growing organizational complexity and project proliferation are driving demand for well-disciplined and consensus-forming individuals capable of leading teams to the finish line. Obtaining certification in your domain of expertise will help ensure you have a future path in your field.

9. document your accomplishments

Aside from getting certified in project management, there are other ways to enhance your professional profile. Continuing education, six sigma training, executive coaching and other programs can help you gain more practical credentials that enhance employability. Even certification that you might deem trivial or inconsequential should be captured as part of your CV because it may be valued by a future employer.

10. network, network, network

Whether you have a job guaranteed for life or are facing possible layoff, networking continues to be one of the most valuable activities you can engage in. Referrals is one of the most common ways in which jobs are filled, and your chances of retaining or procuring employment through networking will be exponentially better than just by applying to job postings.

As workers everywhere ring in 2020, the excitement and apprehension of this landmark year will slowly set in. The future is now, and for those ready to embrace the challenges and opportunities ahead, it’s a future with a silver lining. For those who have yet to consider a plan forward, it’s not too late to adopt some of the steps above to get ready.