Welcome to a time of change. We happen to live in an era of ridiculous exponential growth when it comes to technology. That means not only has technology changed a crazy amount in the last few decades, the rate at which it is advancing is also increasing, fast. It’s an exciting time to be alive. Of course, it also means that the future of work is changing. Fast.
Just this week, the McKinsey Global Institute released a report that found that a third of workers may have to switch jobs in the next dozen or so years because of A.I. There’s no denying it – jobs are vanishing and industries are shrinking. There are people at uni learning skills right now that will be useless in 5 years time. It’s pretty crazy. That is why it pays to be smart, and either get a job or start shifting your skills towards jobs that will be safe in the future.
Architects and engineers
Over the next three years, the need for architects and engineers is set to skyrocket, with today’s demand for these highly-skilled professionals already eclipsing supply. Architects and engineers do everything from powering planes and driving space exploration to transforming entire cities and the way we live. As we inch closer to major breakthroughs and take on the world’s most large-scale, complex problems known for being notoriously difficult to solve – like the refugee crisis, climate change and dwindling resources, we’ll need the ingenuity and might of architects and engineers to lean on. According to the World Economic Forum report, the biggest growth specialisations are:
- Robotics (mechatronics engineering)
Over the next few years, the WEF says senior managers will continue to be highly coveted by companies, particularly in sectors that are ‘ripe for disruption.’ According to analysts and forecasters, the sectors that are most likely to experience a major shakeup include:
- The energy sector
- Real estate
- Financial services (particularly mobile banking)
- Media and entertainment
So if you’re a manager on the cusp of transitioning into a senior exec simply looking for a new challenge, consider moving into one of the above fields. Just remember that if you want to be the type of executive companies will drool over, exceptional managerial skills simply aren’t enough anymore. Moving into the future, companies will seek a ‘new type of senior manager who will successfully steer companies through the upcoming change and disruption.’
Because we humans currently generate a TONNE of data. In fact, an IDC study projects that by 2020, every human on the planet will generate approximately 1.7 megabytes of new data every second of every day. That’s a lot of data. For companies, plenty of data means plenty of opportunities to mine this information for rich consumer insights. And in order to do this, the WEF says they’ll need a team of data analysts to ‘make sense and derive insights from the torrent of data generated by technological disruptions.’ Data analysts will be as important to the Information Age as the prospector was to the Gold Rush. After all, what’s the point in having all of this data, if you can’t mine it for all its worth?
Why become an app developer? Just glance at your phone for the answer. The proliferation of mobile technology is driving demand for development of new applications of all kinds, from news and games to music and social sharing. Systems software developers, who create the operating systems for computers and mobile devices, are also poised for prosperity. From about 414,000 jobs currently, the workforce is projected to grow 16.0% by 2026.
IT and mathematics professionals
No surprises here. Hardcore techies and maths nerds will still be in red-hot demand heading into the future as they continue to form the backbone of innovation and industry. Programmers, software developers and information security analysts will be particularly important, as established industries and emerging niches need these professionals to build the next generation of platforms, applications and technologies – and more importantly, to make sure they’re secure. Tech professionals are already a highly sought after pool of workers, and the excellent knock-on effect of being so coveted by companies is enjoying awesome work conditions and a nice paycheck. It’s no wonder ICT dominated the list of happiest jobs last year, securing an impressive 7 out of the 10 top spots! If you’re lucky enough to already work in this field, you’re probably wondering what sectors or specialisations will offer the most growth into the future. Tech mogul Bill Gates says that if he had his time again, he’d drop out of college in an instant for these three promising fields:
- Artificial Intelligence
Specialised sales professionals
By 2020, sales reps with technical know-how will become increasingly important. As companies of the future continue to create the most innovative and technologically complex products we’ve ever seen, they’ll need a taskforce of specialised sales reps – particularly ones who can handle technologically complex sales – to target new clients and drive growth. As MONEY and Payscale’s joint report points out, sales professionals with strong technical skills enjoy an average 4.3 per cent boost in their salary and ‘typically fatten their paycheck if they can handle technologically complex products and services.’ Beyond being tech-savvy, sales reps will also need to have exceptional communication skills and a high degree of emotional intelligence.
With repetitive and monotonous jobs becoming increasingly automated in the future, the WEF says creative jobs will become more important than ever, particularly ones that require a human touch. It’s why designers will become increasingly important as we inch closer to 2020, with commercial, product and industrial design jobs set to experience the most growth and demand. With emerging fields like robotics and wearable technology and industries like the energy sector poised for disruption, we’ll need product designers to design everything from driverless cars and the future of transport through to new gadgets and manufactured goods.
Regulatory lawmakers and government relations experts
As our future becomes besieged with exciting (and scary) new technologies like driverless cars, long-range drones and gene-editing tools, we’ll need regulatory lawmakers and policy experts to navigate the legal and ethical conundrums that go hand in hand with new tech. Here’s an example that the car industry is already grappling with. No matter how safe they may be, driverless cars still need to be programmed to respond in the event of an accident. So, if there’s a crash, who should the car be programmed to save? The driver? The pedestrians? Or the other drivers? These ethically murky grey areas will need to be thoroughly explored by lawyers and government regulators alike as they attempt to legislate and regulate our increasingly complex future.
Physical and Occupational Therapists
Aging baby boomers are a boon for those working in physical therapy. Many more workers will be needed in this field to care for victims of heart attacks and strokes and to lead them through rehabilitation. And with ongoing advances in medicine, more people will survive such traumas and need rehabilitative services. For similar reasons, demand for occupational therapists is expected to grow at a 25.6% clip over the next decade. While physical therapists focus on rehabilitation of major motor functions, occupational therapists help ill or disabled patients develop or recover the ability to independently perform daily tasks, such as dressing or feeding themselves.
Health Services Manager
The increasing demand for medical services calls for more people to manage them. Health services managers may oversee the functions of an entire medical practice or facility—as a nursing home administrator, for example—or a specific department, as a clinical manager for, say, surgery or physical therapy. Health information managers work specifically on maintaining patient records and keeping them secure, an especially important task as everyone is shifting to digital. A bachelor’s in health administration is the ticket to this profession, but a master’s in health services, business administration or public health is also common among these workers.
So there you have it: IT, maths, engineering, management, sales, product design, government and regulatory law. It’s safe to say that anything to do with AI, sustainability and managing all the aspects of an ageing population will be safe too. Then there’s the interpersonal roles that will require a human touch for a long time to come, like counselling and PR. We’re set to experience some very exciting times in the next few decades – start multi-skilling or up-skilling now to make the most of them.