Are you prepared for the future jobs that don’t exist yet?

June 16, 2021

Maybe you’ve already nailed your organisation’s training strategy. But according to some thinkers, most of the jobs we will be doing in a couple of decades, don’t currently exist. How prepared is your organisation for the future jobs that don’t exist yet?

Predicting the future is tough

Predictions for the future rarely pan out how we imagine. This is because we find it hard to imagine possibilities that go beyond the things we are already familiar with. For example, could you imagine trying to explain the concept of a telephone to somebody from the 18th Century?

An episode of Tomorrow’s World from 1969 depicts “The Office of the Future”

And it’s the same whether it’s a prediction about technology, a prediction about healthcare, or a prediction about the workplace. For example, the above episode of Tomorrow’s World shows a very interesting depiction of what “The Office of the Future” might look like.

So what about the future of jobs?

Jobs exist now that we never could have thought of 20 years ago

If you go back around 20 years or so – you know, when the “dot com boom” was only just starting to bubble – then you’d probably have a hard time explaining what a few job titles meant. For example, a social media manager might seem like a silly career aspiration in the year 2000, considering MySpace hadn’t even been invented yet.

Other jobs that might not have made much sense 20 years ago include:

  • SEO specialist
  • App developer
  • Big data analyst

And the further back you go, the more job roles become alien sounding to the people of their time. Sure, children of the 1960’s did indeed predict the rise of robots in the workplace. But they wouldn’t have imagined that these robots would live inside our phones, our computers, and even our refrigerators!

Rather, they thought we would literally have offices full of humanoid robots, and that our jobs would be replaced completely. Which, of course, we know is only partly true – robots haven’t exactly replaced humans. They’ve simply changed the kind of work we do.

People expect more jobs to be invented that don’t yet exist

We might not be able to predict the future with more than vague accuracy. But we can probably accept that over time, certain jobs will become obsolete, and new jobs will be needed. So what could this mean for the future of work? And what are the future jobs that don’t exist yet, but which might exist in 20 years from now?

  • Drone manager. Many experts have predicted that this could become a thing one day, with the increasing popularity of drones – especially in trials with food and medicine delivery. The role of a drone manager may be similar to the existing role of a fleet manager.
  • Urban farmer. With a growing population and a shrinking farm culture, some predict that urban farming will be the way forward in a few years from now. This could involve the use of hydroponic technology to create perfect growing conditions on a micro-scale, thus maximising the yield without requiring massive amounts of space.
  • Human/Robot team manager. It seems that we can’t stop making predictions about robots. Especially robots doing things that remind us of humans. Indeed, many people have predicted that we will one day need managers who specialise in helping hybrid teams of humans and robots to work better together. Perhaps somebody who understands a good combination of human psychology and artificial intelligence?

According to one author, 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet… which is quite a wild estimate. But I do believe that the type of work we do keeps on changing – which is why, as HR, we should make sure we are investing in the skills of the future.

Start investing in the skills of the future

Instead of trying to guess the names of the future jobs that don’t exist yet, it’s helpful to look at the skills we’re investing in – and to see if our organisation is future proof.

Naturally, you may find you need to start investing in some skills that you’re a bit short on right now. Skills like data analytics, AI training, etc.

But the good news is that you’re probably already covering many of the skills you’ll need, and you simply need to increase the focus you put on them. This is because while specific jobs may change, many of the underlying skillsets won’t. Why? Because they are either very versatile, or very hard for a robot to replace.

These include key skills like:

  1. Creativity
  2. Empathy
  3. Strategic thinking

Investing in these core qualities – and even doubling down on your investment – could serve you well as the job market continues to shift, and your organisation’s needs continue to change.

Are you ready for what the next 20 years might deliver?

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