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How tech is changing the world of work

By Suzy Brown, Director of Sponsorships and Partnerships • Visa Europe

February 07, 2017

Not since the Industrial Revolution has technology so radically changed the way we live our lives. From the invention of the PC and the growth of the Internet, these developments have had particularly strong impact on workplace efficiency because of the increased accessibility of information. And it isn’t just existing jobs that are changing. Technology has created new avenues for careers, as well. The sustained growth of social networks and improvement in connectivity mean that remote working is available to more people than ever before, whether out of a house, gym, coffee shop or when traveling. As the traditional workplace – and, indeed, the traditional job, itself - changes, how is this affecting the generation who have recently embarked, or are on the verge of embarking on their career?

We recently conducted research into how millennials, people between 18-34 years old, aim to navigate their career paths; what their priorities are when considering a vocation and their thoughts on the professions of the future. We saw that the majority of this group don’t expect to stick to one career as thoughts of a single career path increasingly being replaced with a desire to follow a diverse set of passions and interests, a consideration prioritised significantly higher than earning a high salary (62% vs 50%).

Through our work with Formula E, we have witnessed this evolution in the working world. A technological innovator in their own right, Formula E played host to the Visa Vegas eRace at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas . The competition saw “sim racers” from around the world take on Formula E professionals in an eRace, for a total prize pot of $1 million. Representing Britain was Scotland’s Graham Carroll. At 26, Graham is a perfect example of a millennial who has used technology to turn his passion for racing into a career. Simulated races have significantly lower financial barriers to entry than traditional auto racing, making it and, although he missed out on the top prize, Graham still walked away with $20,000 through his success in the qualification stages. This rise in arena gaming has created a new kind of athlete competing for major prize money, and a new career path for people who excel in this form of entertainment. This is one of the reasons Visa we also announced another move into simulated competition with the sponsorship of one of the most successful eSports teams in Europe, SK Gaming.

The rise of eSports isn’t the only new venue creating undreamed-of career paths. Smartphones have led to the gig economy taking off, with 42% of millennials that we spoke to believing it is an area where there is significant potential for career development, while over half felt 3D printing will provide real opportunities for job creation over the next decade. For the millennials we spoke to who saw themselves switching careers over the course of their working lives, over one in three (39%) said there were too many interesting roles available already to commit to a single job.

Whether it’s ambitions to be a sim racer or a developer of 3D printed food, it’s clear that for many of the next generation the standard career path is not going to be a straight line, one size fits all approach. Ten years ago the idea of professional motor racing without a vehicle would have seemed unattainable, who knows what other ways innovative companies will step up to facilitate jobseekers aiming to turn their interests into a full-time job.

At Visa, we welcome the power of technology in unlocking the opportunities for people to not only think, but earn, outside the box. As an employer, we strive to harness this ourselves, and will continue to look to millennials entering our own workforce for new approaches and thinking to help us continue to innovate around the world. Not only is it vital to keeping hold of and attracting fresh and diverse talent, but ensures the business remains future fit.

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