The world of work is undergoing profound change – affected by the growth of new technologies such as mobile internet, the Cloud and big data, as well as socio-economic factors such as the sharing economy, urbanisation and constraints on natural resources.
The likelihood of widespread job losses, as a consequence of such change, has been flagged by the World Economic Forum and others . But many thinkers, among them US futurologist Thomas Frey, encourage optimism. “The same technology that gets blamed for eliminating our jobs is also giving us capabilities beyond our wildest dreams,” he says. “We can now think faster, know faster and do faster than ever before."
The same technology that gets blamed for eliminating our jobs is also giving us capabilities beyond our wildest dreams
These new capabilities will lead to new jobs and careers as society evolves – whether it is drone operators, smart-home contractors or privacy managers who can look after your online presence.
Like other sectors, the automotive industry is already flexing up to engage with big data and mobile technology amongst other developments, and across the board a range of skill sets is emerging to take careers in different directions. Frey says that 60 per cent of the best jobs that will exist in 10 years’ time have not yet been invented.
All of which points to the need for continuing career education and adaptability on the part of workers. “There’s been a huge change in the nature of work since the 1950s. With some of the breakthrough technologies that are on the verge of appearing over the next 10 to 15 years, I suspect change will accelerate further still,” says Stephen Taylor, a human resources expert at the UK’s University of Exeter Business School.
“People will need to be better educated and prepared to re-educate themselves more frequently to change their professions or adapt what they are doing,” he notes.
Sixty per cent of the best jobs that will exist in 10 years’ time have not yet been invented
Ten jobs of the future
So what are the new opportunities that workers and educators need to be ready for? Here’s a list of ten emerging jobs to look out for:
• Weather modification specialist
Weather modification could become an important tool in combating climate change. Cloud seeding – spraying particles into clouds to increase precipitation – is already being trialled in drought-prone regions of the US, China and India. It is hoped that, in future, it will also be possible to move clouds to where rain is needed. Researchers also aspire to control dangerous storms.
• Alternative farmer
The UN predicts that the world’s population will grow by 2.4 billion to 9.7 billion by 2050, putting unprecedented pressure on food supplies – not least because four-fifths of land suitable for growing food is already in use. These trends are helping drive indoor or vertical farming whereby plants are grown using artificial lighting in indoor environments close to or within cities and their end consumers. Pioneer alternative farmers are finding success with organic herbs, lettuce and other leafy greens.
• Privacy manager
With the rise of social media and digitisation, privacy professionals will help manage individuals’ online presence. Personal web managers will recommend and maintain apps, hardware, software and information sources to protect a person’s reputation, build their career and counter cyber-attacks.
• Smart-home contractor
Our homes are becoming increasingly automated; it is no longer only our televisions, personal computers and entertainment systems that need setting up and customising. Smart-home contractors/handypersons will help configure our bespoke systems, from managing household heating and energy to security and appliances.
Rewilders will help reverse the environmental damage caused by humans. Tasks include removing fences to restore flight paths for birds, replacing roads with forests and natural greenery, and reintroducing native species, both plant and animal. Rewilding could provide new employment for traditional farmers pushed out by new technology and rising land prices.
• Recyclable design specialist
With governments charging for waste disposal and public pressure for more sustainable business practices, a product’s afterlife is increasingly scrutinised. The recyclable design specialist will advise on product components and manufacturing processes to make it easier and more financially beneficial to recycle such components in future.
Telesurgeons will specialise in operating on patients in distant locations using remote surgery. As well as a degree in medicine, such doctors will have backgrounds in robotics and telecommunications technology.
• Data cleaner
The amount of data being generated is growing exponentially – 90 per cent of today’s data has been created in the past two years. Data can be enormously valuable, but quality is hugely variable; imperfect data sets and duplication abound. Data cleaners fix inconsistencies and rid data centres of redundant copies, helping streamline storage and speed up processing times.
In the era of social media and the selfie – and with an ageing population – there is growing demand for personal and beauty care. Advances in biochemistry have led to new skincare products and procedures; further technological advances are set to give individuals even more control over their appearance. Aestheticians will help navigate these new services, from facial feature prosthetics and environmentally-responsive makeup to other body modifications.
• Drone operator
Drones will expand beyond the military into commercial and private use. They will be used, for example, to deliver post, shopping, pizzas and water, to remove rubbish and to monitor traffic and pollution. This will fuel high demand for skilled operators, especially those with experience of navigating cities.