Changing Workforce: Adapting To New Technologies


(Turn and face the strain)


(Just gonna have to be a different man)

Time may change me

But I can’t trace time

David Bowie, “Changes”

This is a scientifically proven phenomenon: As people get older, even if they want to change, and they want to do something different, they struggle to do so. 

But the good news, is that if older adults do make a change, they are more likely to maintain the change than younger adults.

My guess is that it all comes down to survival. What we’ve always done has gotten us to a ripe, old, or middle age. So evolutionarily speaking, we should continue doing what we’ve already done to get this far. 

World Economic Forum estimates that, by 2025, 50% of all employees will need reskilling due to adopting new technology. 

Upskilling is the buzzword for ways for companies to take an existing workforce and help them learn to do a different skill instead of taking the effort and energy to recruit new people. 

But also, it’s a way for employees to make themselves more competitive, get a better salary, and give themselves a new challenge.

It’s so easy to get complacent in the skills that we have and learn to have that false sense of security. That comfort translates into complacency, which is not a place we are meant to stay in forever.

If we stay in our comfort zone all the time, it feels like it’s what we should want, but it’s not what we need. 

If you think about it, engaging in any creativity is upskilling, whether you’re learning to paint or cook or garden. 

Learning is upskilling.

What holds us back from learning a new skill? Is it the comfort of our expertise? 

When we are younger and we’re building skills, being in that place of discomfort and of not knowing is normal. You’re surrounded by other people, students or residents or apprentices, who are all embedded in learning. 

Once you get to a certain age, let’s say 49, it’s easy to feel that you’ve arrived in your expertise. The challenge of learning can feel hard, vulnerable, and can feel like an admission of incompetence.

Here’s the great thing about creativity: if we can build a habit of engaging our creativity every day, we start to accept that upskilling and learning new skills are just a part of what we do every day. We become adult students! 

We lose the complacency and “curse of knowledge” when we engage in creativity every day because we are always in a learning state. This makes it easier to learn when we are faced with new technology or knowledge in our workplace or at home. 

An example of something I tried recently:

Recently, I tried a new video recording software. It’s got a funny name: mmhmm

It allows you to edit your slides, jazz them up with video backgrounds and cool effects like being in a TV or a box. Mmmhmm also allows you to record a talk in “takes” where you can split a longer presentation up into scenes, like in a movie or a tv show. 

As a speaker, I was excited to learn how to use this great tool, but I feared the substantial learning curve.
It was a great way for me to upskill and learn something new. 

As much as in the end it was a great way to do something unique with my product, my first few takes and first few hours of using this program were not up to my standard. 

I liked creatively building an engaging and visually appealing recorded presentation. With creativity, though, it can feel like it never ends. There is always something “more” to change or adapt or do. 

How do you know when it’s done?

It’s a balance between finding new tools and not jumping on every little bandwagon.

Despite the importance of being uncomfortable and knowing that you’re going to fail when you first start learning a new tool or procedure, you don’t necessarily want to stay in that place all the time. I need to feel some accomplishment, sometimes.

What works for me is to develop some expertise and get good at something, but to balance that with a proportion of your time trying new things, getting better at them, and feeding your novelty brain with new experiences. 

In my case, I’m definitely going to use it again and I’m getting better all the time.  

Check out mmhmm here if you’re interested!

What about you?

Are you in the habit of doing something new, like trying a new program for your job? Are you ok with the feeling that it will suck at the beginning?

Remember, the more you try it, you can decide at that point whether your learning curve is the problem or if this solution just isn’t the right one for you. 

Leave a comment and let me know what skill you want to learn, either for fun or to keep up with your changing workplace.

I would love to hear from you!

In Other News…

You can check out my book and resources for creativity at

If you live in Calgary, you can read my book for free by checking it out from the Calgary Public Library.

Put it on your hold list here!

Throwback to my interview with Steve Rader last year! 

While this interview primarily discusses the gig economy and open talent and innovation (all examples of the ever-changing workplace environment), there is a great story in this interview of upskilling and reskilling.

The whole interview is worth a watch, but the story begins at 24:40. You can watch the interview here.
Steve discusses a woman in psychology who took part in and won several NASA challenges. Her first few submissions were in Powerpoint, and over time she started learning 3D printing and more techy computer files. 

Innovation challenges and contests are almost exclusively a place where you can fail with no consequences. 

So if you’re looking to upskill but you’re a little worried about consequences, try finding a writing or video contest, or an innovation challenge, or try something new outside of your working hours. A failed recipe on the weekend when you might have more time will feel a lot less scary than a failed recipe you were hoping to take to a potluck for work the next morning. 

Follow Steve
Twitter: @steverader
LinkedIn: Steve Rader 

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