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These are the jobs of the future

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It’s a sobering thought that in 10 years, around 65% of the jobs that people will be doing have not even been thought of yet, according to the US department of labour.

In some markets like Australia, there are reports that up to half a million existing jobs could be taken over by robotics or machines run by artificial intelligence.

With smarter computers taking on more of the work that people currently do, we are left to wonder what jobs there might be left for us humans. Could a robot do your job?

Almost any job that can be described as a “process” could be done by a computer, whether that computer is housed in a robot or embedded somewhere out of sight.

If intelligent machines can take over many of the jobs of today, what can you do to ensure your job prospects in the future?

Some jobs will always be done by people. The reasons can vary greatly: economic, social, nostalgic or simply not practical for robots to do.

If around 65% of the jobs in 10 years have not been invented yet, we can’t be sure what those future jobs will actually look like, though futurists are not shy of making predictions.

While we may not know what outward form these jobs will take, we can still make a catalogue of the generic skills that will be valued highly

In his book Five Minds for the Future, Harvard professor Howard Gardner makes the case for cultivating a disciplined mind, being someone who can bring their attention to a laser-like focus and drill down to the essence of a subject, perceiving the simple truth of it.
Then to take this clarity to the next level by combining multiple ideas in new ways to create something interesting and perhaps useful.

This done by the synthesising mind and the creative mind.

Gardner describes the respectful mind that values diversity in people and looks for positive ways to interact, thus overcoming the “us and them” instinct that still creates so much conflict in human affairs.

Building on this is the ethical mind, of one who thinks about the big picture and how their personal needs can be brought into alignment with the greater good of the community. Skills for a globally connected world.

The future will see a host of new technology for creating and communicating content. In-demand workers will be able to critically assess this content and find ways to communicate it to good effect.

Communication skills have always been important and will remain so.

Knowing how to deal with large data sets will be a handy skill; finding ways to make sense of the data and turn it into useful information.

This could involve devising new, multi-disciplinary and perhaps unconventional approaches to the challenges.

We already filter a deluge of information every day. Our grandparents were lucky — they had to deal with a lot less.

People will need to be even better at managing the cognitive load. They will have the thinking skills to filter the deluge and find optimum solutions to problems.

When good collaboration tools exist for virtual project teams, there are few limits to what can be achieved. More projects will be done by such teams because the technology that supports them is getting better every year.

It allows the right people, with the right skills at the right price to be employed, regardless of where they live.

So it will be that people with the right virtual team skills will be in high demand.

Speaking of the virtual, procedural architects will be at a premium. These are people who can design virtual environments and experiences that allow people to get things done and perhaps have some fun.

This is what the minds behind Google, YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, Wikipedia, Twitter, eBay, LinkedIn, Pinterest, WordPress and MSN have done.

All of this leads us to the question; what actual jobs are likely to be in demand?

Employment specialists compile lists of what they think will be in demand, based on trends. These are some of the jobs that appear on multiple lists:

Information security analysts, big data analysts, artificial intelligence and robotics specialists, applications developers for mobile devices, Web developers, database administrators, business intelligence analysts, gamification designers, business/systems analysts and ethicists.

In other disciplines, there will be a need for:

Engineers of all kinds, accountants, lawyers, financial advisers, project managers, specialist doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, veterinarians, psychologists, health services managers, school teachers, market research analysts, sales reps and construction workers (particularly bricklayers and carpenters).

Both lists are not exhaustive.

On the downside, occupations likely to shrink in demand include:

Agricultural workers, postal service workers, sewing machine operators, switchboard operators, data entry clerks and word processor typists.

To position yourself favourably for the jobs of the future, become someone who can look at problems in unorthodox ways, seeing different angles and finding workable solutions.

Be a multi-disciplinary, insatiably curious person who knows how to use the tools to model ideas and create prototypes.

Possessed of an open mind and few fixed ideas about how things should be done, you nonetheless have a strong conscience and can operate outside of your comfort zone to achieve win-win outcomes. You are known for your integrity and resilience.

All of these qualities can be cultivated or perhaps rediscovered, since children often exhibit them in abundance. They have always been the way for creative, high-achieving people and they are still the way today and into the future.

In the brave new world of the coming age of intelligent machines, it is these essentially human qualities that will be more important than ever. Some things will never change because human nature is what it is.The Conversation

  • David Tuffley is lecturer in applied ethics and socio-technical studies at Griffith University
  • This article was originally published on The Conversation

14 Comments

  1. IMO this article would have been more relevant 10 years ago; predicting the employment needs of today

  2. Greg Mahlknecht on

    I was told this over 20 years ago at school, it’s now clear it was BS then, and it’s obviously BS now. All that happened was that some niche/cutting edge jobs became more common, and some common jobs became more niche. That’s always kept happening, and will continue to happen until the end of time.

  3. It’s an equally sobering thought that here in Third World, Failed State, South Africa in a decade, electricity will be strictly rationed to four hours per day and there will be no clean water in the Rand Water street pipes due to that same rationing.
    Enjoy today folks, these really are THE GOOD OLD DAYS.

  4. Greg. This is obviously quite broad and will take a while. However, already we are feeling the changes. Globalisation is the first step where easy jobs are outsourced to countries where the people doing the jobs will work for less money. As they become less reasonably priced – companies will look to automation. There will always be people who attempt to block the progress but it is inevitable. At the very least companies that ignore the technology available will slowly start to decline. The beauty in the long run is that menial jobs will fall away and people can follow their passions. The ugliness is that, if you are not equipped for a job where you need to be creative – you will find work getting harder to find. That is how come in a country like South Africa there is both large scale unemployment and difficulty filling positions – people are just not skilled to do the work that needs to be done. This is the same in Australia to a less extent but people here (in Oz) have managed to turn even the most menial job into a specialist position. Other jobs like petrol attendants have fallen away. This will continue and the question you have to constantly ask is “what, in my job, do I add that a computer couldn’t?” If you can’t answer that – start studying for a new job or start getting creative in your own job.

  5. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    >>The beauty in the long run is that menial jobs will fall away and people can follow their passions.

    100% Spot On!! All people are gifted with creative ability and it is a sad state of affairs that most find themselves doing menial work just so they can have a roof over their heads and put food on the table.

    When the situation requires that people become the creators that they are meant to be; and begin to pursue interests which they are passionate about then the world will definitely become a better place.

  6. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    Compliments of the New Season to you Baas Davebee…

    …and good to see that you’re kicking-off 2015 being the usual positivist and inspirational hope for the future 😉

  7. The future? What future?
    The future here in this ANC benighted little corner of the ongoing Afro Transformation disaster movie is still an unmitigated horror story…unless you are among the leading lights of the ANC’s, political appointees (se: Zuma’s kid on a million a year with no experience) untouchables, cronies, deployees, Biznessmen, Unionists and Gravy Train passengers who are happily and recklessly raping the local tax payers back to the stone age that is.
    Do I see anything inspirational coming up in SA 2015? Answer, as always, I’m sad to say is Zippo, nil, sweet effall.

  8. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    What you and your chorus of positively inspiring chomies need to do is reformat your minds. It would be far better for one to have;

    >>Zippo, nil, sweet effall.

    …between the ears than to be loaded with all the junk that you are having upstairs in that space that used to have a “Maak ‘n Plan” brain. (The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven.)

  9. Firstly, I do not have any, as you put it, chommies. I follow Baden Powell’s philosophy of paddle-your-own-canoe. Try it some time and avoid the Members of the Community approach you revel in.
    As to being positive, yes, I’m pretty positive. Positive that I was spot on in my predictions as to the future (ha ha) of this country under ANC misrule. When? Way back in the 1960’s.
    Of course the current name of this country should be changed asap… as Mandela, Mbeki and the present stooge from luthuli House have all been infringing on the copyright brand name of South Africa. SA is long gone I’m sorry to say, round about 30th April 1994 in fact. It’s time for this ongoing Third World economic natural disaster to get a name that reflects its true ethnic Mzanziness I think.

  10. What do you mean: “All people are gifted with creative ability”? This just is not so, just as all people are not logical. Why do we still have aptitude tests for IT employees? Those who can’t pass Matric at 30% will always be resigned to menial jobs. Somehow you always make this political or racial, implying that all people are equal when clearly they are not. There are unfortunately more people destroying the world than those who build and create. Whether it is stealing cables or man-hole covers, or fighting religious wars, some people are a burden on society. The useless have-nots (no brain) are unfortunately in the majority.

  11. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    >>Those who can’t pass Matric at 30% will always be resigned to menial jobs.

    Does your level of education determine entrepreneurial success? Before you go onto once again, revealing yourself for the illogical fool whose very interesting life involves reading comments by conceited boring individuals – consider this;

    Richard Branson founder of the Virgin Group and probably the most successful entrepreneur in the world, has made no secret of his poor academic performance as a student.

    There are plenty of entrepreneurs, the whole world over as well as right here in SA who are great examples of why a Matric pass at any percentage is not an indicator or determining factor towards achieving success.

    >>The useless have-nots (no brain) are unfortunately in the majority. (Your honesty in truthly describing yourself so accurately is quite commendable but its certainly time to find your “Maak ‘n Plan brain” and increase the numbers for the minority that have brains.)

  12. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    >>As to being positive, yes, I’m pretty positive. Positive that I was spot on in my predictions as to the future (ha ha) of this country under ANC misrule. When? Way back in the 1960’s.

    Your predictive abilities can most certainly be likened to those of people who claim that they have the formula for determining winning Lotto numbers given all the successes that have been achieved by the ANC in its struggle going – Way back into the 1960’s nogal.

    I’ll be sticking with my quick pick numbers, thank you very much; and don’t you be trying to get yourself a career as a sangoma in the new Tanzania.

  13. Your clichéd illogical drivel is what makes this forum so boring. You are not worth replying to.

  14. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    My, my, my… Ricardo – are you in need of a navigator to help you locate the whereabouts of the grey matter that was once between your ears?

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