The Fourth Industrial Revolution has rapidly changed the world through big data, artificial intelligence and automation. The workplace is becoming increasingly driven by flux caused by technological disruption and collaborative work has become the ideal structure of the workplace. Yet, the workplace is not the only entity changing. With the predominant working population changing from Baby Boomers to Millennials, employees and their work attitudes have been a constant concern to firms. How can Millennials best adapt to the rapidly changing future of work?
Dr Nilanjan Raghunath’s Shaping the Futures of Work: Proactive Governance and Millennials aims to provide unique sociological explanations to these questions.
The main argument of the book is that in a rapidly changing society, states need to adopt proactive governance in order to understand the changing nature of work and prepare citizens to better tackle the future. Notably, proactive governance does not only place responsibility on the government. Rather, through active engagement and collaboration with citizens, the government and other stakeholders, including businesses, hold equally important roles in ensuring that citizens can adapt to the changing future. While good governance already includes the need to engage with citizens, proactive governance goes one step further and argues for the need to understand the future of work and enact policies to prepare citizens from young to tackle the future.
Using Singapore and Singaporean Millennials as a case study, this book examines the experiences of 50 individuals, including both Millennials and non-Millennials to understand the ways the workplace have changed, as well as the work ethic of Millennials. The experiences of these Singaporean Millennials suggest similarities with other Millennials globally such as a sense of idealism; yet these Singaporean Millennials possess traits such as pragmatism even as they seek to have greater levels of moral meanings in their work lives. With the strong sense of meritocracy imbued into the upbringing of Singaporean Millennials through the education policies of the government, the author suggests that these Millennials are better equipped to remain competitive in the changing future of work. Nevertheless, while Singaporean Millennials are trained for the current and future labour market, they often lack the necessary agility to handle risk, failure and reinvention.
The greatest contribution of this book is to further the understanding of the role of governments in providing reskilling opportunities to tackle the rapidly changing future of work, where reactive measures such as creating temporary jobs for unemployed individuals are no longer sufficient. The proactive governance approach clearly aims at tackling problems before they emerge to ensure that citizens remain employable in good jobs in the future.
Overall, this book provides unique insights into the ways that Millennials can more effectively tackle the future of work with their collaborative efforts and the proactive efforts of the state to tackle rapid innovation. It clearly highlights how Millennials and potentially future generations of citizens can be trained from younger ages to possess attitudes and characteristics critical to succeed in the future workforce. Through offering rich experiences of Singaporean Millennials and Singapore’s proactive governance approach, the book presents a unique take on the role of the state in the flux society to create effective workers of the future. Yet, it also raises questions about the role of other stakeholders such as corporations in the wider vision for the future; how should businesses continue to maintain the relevance of their workers? This book therefore sets a good foundation of understanding Millennials and the role of the state in the changing future of work, while introducing a key concept of collaboration to handle flux that is valuable for a holistic examination.
Dr Nilanjan Raghunath is an assistant professor of sociology at the Singapore University of Technology and Design.