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Many children attending school today will do jobs that don’t exist yet!  In fact, we can all expect to have completely new job types in the future.  Business Optimizer considers how to be ready for the jobs of tomorrow.


We are in a rapidly changing world.  The push towards digitalisation and the Internet of Things is fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and communicate.

As a result of these changes, many commentators have suggested that within just a few decades, the world of work will look very different from how it does today.


The Future of Work

In its 2015 survey, Fast Forward 2030: The Future of Work and the Workplace, the CBRE found that 50 percent of occupations today will no longer exist in 2025.

It stated that the new jobs that will replace today’s “will require creative intelligence, social and emotional intelligence and the ability to leverage artificial intelligence”.

Effectively, humans will continue to be needed in the roles which cannot yet be done by machines.  This is a theme explored further by Erik Brynjolfsson at MIT, the co-author of The Second Machine Age.  Brynjolfsson sees three categories where human workers will still be able to prosper:

  • Creative tasks and inventing new things that machines aren’t very good at.
  • Interpersonal relationships – motivating people, comforting people, caring for people. Machines have not proven good at this kind of interactive task.
  • Routine motor skills, and fine motor control. The skills of a barber, or gardener, cook or janitor. Machines are still incredibly bad at manipulating the world.


How Can Today’s Workers Prepare?

The predicted changes will require today’s workforce to adopt a new and different approach to the work they are prepared to do and how they manage their careers.

In a world of change, workers will need to accept greater personal responsibility for continuously updating and augmenting their skills.  We will need to take a much more proactive approach to life-long learning and its role in the management of our careers.

As work becomes less location-specific, we’ll also need to become more network oriented.  Work contracts are increasingly likely to be project based – the comfortable “job for life” is unlikely to persist.

Furthermore, the jobs that do exist will be increasingly technology intensive.  As well as having implications for ongoing learning and professional development, we will need to get used to a new way of working – collaborating with machines. Writing in Forbes magazine, Bernard Marr suggests that rather than replacing humans entirely, the next generation of intelligent machines will be “cobots” or collaborative robots.


Is the Changing Nature of Work a Myth?

Some commentators, however, have questioned whether the predictions about the pace of change coming to the world of work are realistic.

Also in Forbes, education correspondent Derek Newton stated, “Since 2030 is just 12 years away, the idea that 85 percent of jobs taken by today’s learners will be new should be laughable and come as a major shock to those in law school or studying nursing, as examples.”

Newton argues that taking on board the outlandish predictions about the future of work poses a danger to the future of education.

But Newton acknowledges, “What is real is that schools in general and colleges in particular are doing an outstanding job of preparing students for careers. And to the extent that any future jobs are in transition or under development, schools and students alike are wise to invest in foundations of a good education, the soft skills of the liberal arts such as critical reading, communication, creativity and collaboration.  Actual research does show that those skills are essentially future-proof, even in tech jobs.”


What Can We Do Now?

  • Prepare for project-based employment.
  • Take greater personal responsibility for acquiring and continuously updating skills.
  • Be open to and take advantage of technology enabled training opportunities.
  • Be willing to jump across specialist knowledge boundaries as technologies and disciplines converge.
  • Develop a blend of technical and ‘softer’, collaborative skills.
  • Focus on developing the skills that will be at a premium in future: resilience, adaptability, problem solving, creative tasks, and work that requires fine motor control.