Business Bites: Are you future-proofing your career?

Nick Walsh FBDO
ABDO sector skills development officer

A report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) published in 2016 revealed that two-thirds of children starting primary school that year would be likely to find themselves taking up jobs that don’t exist yet.

Roughly, 45 per cent of the jobs people are assigned to perform today could be automated using future technological reforms. So what can be done to future-proof your career?

Know your industry trends

Do you keep track of changes and new trends in the optical sector? This can be an important factor in how well you can truly future proof your career. Many will consider the use of technology within the sector to be a potential threat to traditional roles. However, an increased use of technology in the workplace doesn’t mean your role may be replaced; it could mean you’ll just need to know how to use this technology to potentially do your job better or more efficiently.

Expand your skillset

You may have already experienced that having a degree doesn’t make you stand out anymore. According to ONS data, 42 per cent (14 million) of people aged 21-64 now have degrees. The key is never stop learning. Whilst CET may cover requirements set by the General Optical Council, true CPD is necessary.

You should continue to acquire new skills. The best way to do this may be to enrol on online courses to improve your future prospects. Many are not only affordable, they’re also more accessible; you can learn whilst you earn. These new skills will help you get ahead in the eyes of employers, and they will ensure your career is set up for success in the future too.

Record your accomplishments

Record your projects and accomplishments as you work through them. This guarantees that you never forget to highlight something, and you will always have a list of your achievements on hand. Record extras like volunteer work and professional development courses, as well as any other training you receive. As well as accomplishments, it is worthwhile keeping a record of areas for improvement. These may be from your performance reviews or things that you have identified for yourself. Dip into these regularly to work on these areas.

Have a ‘change mindset’

Technology is only going to keep evolving. It is always going to get better. While you may not know exactly how, this change is inevitable. As technology in the work environment evolves, the workforce also needs to develop. People who are more adaptable and resilient will be more comfortable with future change.

How do you become more adaptable? When your environment begins changing, have an open mind about what this change may bring. Don’t try resisting it and sticking to your old habits, look at how you can adapt your role and skillset to embrace any changes. One of the best ways to build the confidence necessary for this new technology-driven world is to review and improve your skillset.

Embrace technology – don’t be a technophobe

Take time to learn more about the technology you may be struggling with, especially if using it makes up part of your role. Another way to look at this is by asking yourself how you can work with the technology to improve your role, skills and the patient experience.

Since many experts believe future-proofing your career means being able to work with artificial intelligence (AI), you’ll need to be fluent in technology instead of averse to it. We already see AI being used in medical situations to analyse medical images and identify potential conditions. Could we see this extend to optical coherence tomography and retinal photography? Moreover, the more you advance your knowledge, the stronger your CV becomes.

Building a professional network

Build a professional network. A career network that comprises of successful people from your field of interest can also help you get favourable referrals. This will strengthen your profile in your chosen field and adds credibility to your profile.

Start by:
• Joining professional networks such as LinkedIn
• Keep track of former colleagues and bosses
• Look for relationship building opportunities, such as seminars and webinars
• Collecting the contact details of the people you meet within your field

A strong network today can help you utilise opportunities in the future.