Last week I was interviewed for a Dutch radio station, about the future of work. The program was considering the future of work: what are promising jobs for the future, what are future-proof skills and what is the best advice you can give to your children with respect to their studies and career choices.
Some considerations to consider when must choose a study or career.
1. Study the numbers
In the discussion about future jobs, all kind of fancy jobs are mentioned, like City Farmer, Robot Repair Specialist, DNA-Advisor and 3-D Printer Mechanic. Yes, certainly there will be many new jobs in the future. The quantity of some of these new jobs will not be big though. There will be some City Farmers for example, but I cannot imagine there will be many. Today many people are working in traditional sectors, and for years to come there will be opportunities in these sectors.
The figure below gives an overview of the number of people who are employed in the different industry sectors in the USA, and a forecast of the employment in 2024 (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics).In 2014 most people were employed in ‘State and Local Government’, ‘Professional and Business services’ and ‘Health Care and ‘Social Assistance’. The number of jobs in most sectors is expected to grow in most sectors, most notably in ‘Health Care and Social Assistance’ and ‘Professional and Business Services’. If you are trained for a job in one of the larger sectors, and if you acquire skills that cannot be easily done by robots or other machines (see the article of Rachel Rickard Straus), your future might be bright.
2. In the future, it is less about jobs, more about projects and assignments
We still talk a lot about jobs. The trend is clearly into another direction. In the future organisations will most likely not consist of people with clear jobs (with the dreaded job descriptions), but more of pools of people with specific skills and qualities. Per project/ assignment a team is build, with people who have the skills, qualities and the motivation to work on the assignment.
Based on research by the University of Kent, Headway Recruitment made a nice infographic summarising the skills that are best suited for the (short term) future. Although some of these skills are not so easy to develop, it is worthwhile to consider them and see how you can strengthen them as good as possible.
3. Create options
The future is difficult to predict. Technological developments are going fast, and it is impossible to look twenty years ahead.
A good strategy might be to train and educate yourself in such a way, that you always have multiple options. Technical skills are likely to be in high demand for some time to come, so if you have the opportunity and the capacities to develop your technical skills and knowledge, please grab this opportunity. If you can code and cook, you can always become a cook if you are fed up with programming. If you can speak Chinese in addition, you can create many more options. You can add Cable Testing, Cardio Training and so on (see ‘12,000 job description A-Z‘ and the ‘List of general skills‘ for inspiration).
4. Don’t forget your passion!
Finally: whatever choices you make, based on the recommendations above, your starting point and your end point should be your passion. If you stay close to your passion, the chances increase that you can influence and create your own future.