Last week we met futurist Ruben Nelson who gave us our workforce prediction, explaining that with the forceful trend leading to a fragmented and unstable workforce there are many effects on society. This week he tells us what we can do and how we can cope.

“Today you have to have a higher degree to cope with ambiguity and instability than your grandparents,” says Ruben.
“New situations require adaptation.

“That’s what Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ is about — by survival of the fittest it means those who have the capacity to change who they are to shape the world they’re in.”

Increasing your adaptive capacity is good given the dynamics of the 21st century. Treat every occasion in life as an opportunity to be more adaptive. Ask yourself how many ways can I respond to this situation? One of the keys to adaptation is being able to reframe things, Ruben says.

“Your repertoire of behaviour has to be wide enough to have different responses,” says Nelson.

So, what path should your career take?

“Choose work that you care about,” he says. Don’t base your career path on the marketplace which is now unsteady. The drift of the culture is now back towards integration and therefore needs people with a more integrated self.

“Bring more of your whole self to the table,” suggests Nelson. “Seeing things as a whole takes people who are more whole.”

Sometimes when people talk about change and the future it can sound dark. While the world for those in their 20s can be quite negative there are also a lot more opportunities.

“The world of 2008 is much wider than the world of 1908 or 1958,” he adds. “To not understand the positive possibilities is to make a mistake.”

As young professionals facing this unstable and fragmented job market, I don’t see it as a bad thing necessarily. True, when I first came out of university I was looking for that first stable, career-building job — you all would know because I wrote about it in this column. However, there is a restlessness for most of us in our 20s which manifests in job hopping. At least 40 years from now, we can’t claim we were prisoners, chained to the same desk and chair.

Kavita Gosyne, 26, is a vibrant young journalist. She writes about her transition from student to employee and the issues she faces such as office politics.

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