Mastering the Jobs of the Future

In the past, jobs were stable, linear, and singular—people chose one path and pursued it from college to retirement. Today, jobs are complex, specialized, collaborative, and ever-evolving. Automation is a disruptive force that is transforming every industry and raising far-reaching questions about the work people can do and the future relationship between man and machine. When we see an intelligent machine beat the best chess player in the world, a sense of fear is triggered in our minds that the robot revolution could be nigh, and for some bizarre reason, we start linking this fear with various science fiction movies and despairing over the possibility of a dystopian future. Well, as much as I love science fiction, I’m not worried about a robot Armageddon.

Fear is an inevitable consequence of anything new and unfamiliar. Thus, many critics ask, “How many jobs will the machine destroy?” when what they should really consider is, “What can this technology improve?” The answer is “a tremendous amount,” for in viewing things from a 2030 perspective, it’s clear how much is about to change. We’re starting to build a new layer of infrastructure—digital infrastructure—that will “upgrade” our existing world and lay the foundations for future jobs. While AI, bots, and big data are changing the work we do and how we make decisions; Virtual Reality is changing the way we interact and learn; and 3D Printing is changing the way we create products, we still need to change our perception of future jobs.

Jobs of the future are the jobs you make—jobs that use new tools of the trade (AI, VR, big data, et al.) to solve old business problems and explore new opportunities. Future jobs are also likely to be those that involve understanding which systems, tools, and processes will be required in the machine age, and how to create and operate them. So how does one master the art of getting and staying employed over the next 10 years? You will need to focus on excelling in one of the three key areas:

  • Coaching: Are you a good coach? Do you help people improve at things (e.g. managing their finances, managing their weight)? We still need humans to create new products, promote sales, and provide a human element to jobs. As a coach, you can reshape the work by making it engaging, humane, and purposeful.
  • Connecting: Are you good at building connections and synergies, identifying patterns, and building rules? Can you help people work in tandem with machines? New jobs such as man-machine collaboration, “traditional” and “shadow” IT, the physical and the virtual, and commerce with ethics that will need help connecting the dots.
  • Caring: Are you good at sense making? Are you able to determine deeper meanings and social intelligence? Can you help improve people’s health and wellness? We need to make the best of people and not just the best of technology.

In our new report, we propose 21 new jobs that will emerge over the next 10 years and will become cornerstones of the future of work. While producing this report, we imagined hundreds of jobs that could emerge within the major macroeconomic, political, demographic, societal-cultural, business and technology trends observable today, trends such as, growing/aging populations, environmentalism, migration, and automation (just to name a few). Each job in the report has a job description and involves one of the three themes: coaching, caring, and connecting. Many future jobs are the jobs of today (teachers, doctors, and policemen aren’t going anywhere soon), but with a weird, unsettling, and unique twist. Remember, none of these future jobs are science fiction—you can expect to see your HR department filling them in the near future—so make sure you’ve mastered the art of getting and staying employed over the next 10 years.


Business value is a shared enterprise

How will your organization capture value in the next five years? Because we’ve all enjoyed our digital “fun” over the last decade through our Facebook likes and Twitter spats. But until recently, market developments have mainly, as technology writer Kara Swisher has said, been driven by “big minds chasing small ideas”. We’re now entering an era of “big brains focused on big ideas” – using data and insight to transform how we’re educated, fed, transported, insured, medicated and governed. “We’re all software companies now” so the saying goes and the saying is right because we’re beginning to virtualize everything from products and services to entire value-chains and industries.

No industry is immune from the rise of software. The insurance industry is now awash with data as wearable devices generate individual health profiles and customized premium quotes, and our driving insurance policies can be based on actual driving performance (you’ve seen the ads and yes, if the price is right, we’re willing to be tagged and tracked!). In big pharma, data is supercharging an era of innovation and opportunity as smart medical devices, intelligent pill bottles, bio-sensors and now even digestible chips on pills create a trail of data that can be analysed for meaning and value. Data is now the basis for intercompany innovation. It’s triggering a wave of experimentation like the recent tie-up between Novartis and Google (Google is ALL about the data). Novartis wanted to license Google’s smart contact lens to measure a wearer’s blood sugar levels (and gain a data feed) and begin to build a platform for innovation (co-creating with the data feed). It hasn’t yielded a return but it shows the direction of travel. Business value increasingly flows across many different players. Business value is a shared enterprise across new partnerships and consortia.

Brands are no longer single entities because end-to-end customer journeys and customer experiences now depend on many different inter-related dependencies and players. It is happening now—new market niches like the connected car, connected home or the smart city are much more than lofty concepts; rather, these entities are developing into synchronized products and services set among a diverse range of players. I wrote about this previously here; a great example are the world’s car manufacturers that are busy organizing into commercial consortia to capture the opportunities from the predicted rise of the self-driving car. The autonomous car is starting to trigger an industry mashup way beyond the current spat for control of the ride sharing software or the in-car entertainment interface between Apple and Google. These ecosystems that are now forming are the backbone for future value.

Once you start looking for them you will see these new software ecosystems everywhere. Look at the big shift in banking strategy as Fintech builds. Many of the established banks now run platform strategies and open architectures to aggregate 3rd party Fintech data and enable the delivery of newly slick, personalized products and services in compelling new ways. (BTW If you’re serious about how eco-systems work then get scrubbed on platforms and application programming interfaces (APIs) which are the glue that sticks these and other services together). For example, S&P’s Capital IQ uses APIs to integrate key information, including investment research, companies’ financials, credit ratings, and global market data, and alpha and risk models, into personalized business applications for customers. In this accelerated world of APIs and consortia, companies will have to interact with many more partners covering a broad range of functions and it’s fiendishly complex to master: check out the customer data ecosystem for example; it needs customer analytics solutions, engagement agencies, social media marketing folks, tag management expertise, loyalty solutions, customer engagement agencies, data aggregators, recommendation engines, pricing engines, back to market research panels and interactive agencies. Where does this stuff get put-together? How does it work? Who makes it work?

This is why I’ve just wrapped up some research that shows how the spaces where we come together to work matter. Because if you take a second to understand the interplay between workflow and space you’ll understand why the space where work gets done matters now more than ever. Workflow is changing as data infuses everything but the emerging market opportunities described above call on companies to assemble work-teams to blend skills, capabilities and innovative thinking inside, outside and across traditional organizational structures. The crackle of innovation needs to happen somewhere and it’s not just going to happen online. Your people, if they’re good, will be keen to discuss the trajectory of the work they do and the structural shifts that are now playing out everywhere. The future of your space still matters...so watch this space.

PS. The next wave of value that Kara Swisher rightly points too we think will come from more established companies in more traditional industries that can see and seize the opportunities ahead. It means organizing around platforms, boosting innovation and assembling new machines for work—this is Europe’s digital imperative. Entirely new market sectors are now emerging that blend talent, disciplines and technologies in a super-charged wave of innovation—connected cars, social insurance, smart homes, digital health – the list goes on. These ecosystems supporting these markets have radically switched in the last 5 years...what is interesting is they’ve taken the talent pool with them!

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What are the Jobs of the Future?

21 Jobs of the Future: A Guide to Getting – and Staying – Employed Over the Next 10 Years

Concern about a “jobless future” has never been greater. Seemingly every day an academic, researcher, or technology leader suggests that in a world of automation and artificial intelligence workers will increasingly be surplus to requirements – as Stanford University’s Jerry Kaplan puts it, in the near future “Humans Need Not Apply”.

The concerns are understandable. Artificial Intelligence – long academic theory and Hollywood plotline – is becoming “real” at an astonishing pace and finding its way into more and more aspects of work, rest, and play. AI is now being used to read X-Rays and MRIs. It’s at the heart of stock trading. Chat with Siri or Alexa and you’re using AI. Soon, AI will be found in every job, in every profession, in every industry around the world.

What Work Will Be Left in the Future?

When machines do everything lots of people wonder what will we do? What work will be left for people? How will we make a living when machines are cheaper, faster, and smarter than us? Machines that don’t take breaks, vacations, get sick, or want to chat to their colleagues about last night’s game. To many people the future of work is a bleak place full of temporary jobs (a “gig” economy), minimum wage labor, and a ruling technocracy safely hidden away in their gated communities and their circular living machines.

In the future work will change but won’t go away. Many types of job will disappear. Many workers will struggle to adjust to the disappearance of the work they understand and find it hard to thrive with work they don’t understand. Wrenching transformations – which is what the future of work holds for us all – are never easy. But a world without work is a fantasy which is no closer to reality in 2017 than it was 501 years ago upon the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia.

21 Jobs of the Future to Emerge Over Next 10 Years

In the new report 21 Jobs of the Future, we propose 21 new jobs that will emerge over the next ten years and which will become cornerstones of the future of work. We believe that these are jobs that will create mass-employment, providing work for the many people in offices, stores, and factory floors displaced or disrupted by technology.

Our 21 jobs of the future are positioned over a 10 year timeline and according to their “tech-centricity”. Some of the jobs are already here, or imminent. Some of them are still a few years out. Some of the jobs are highly technical whilst others won’t require much tech-knowledge at all.

The jobs cover many disciplines, markets, and technologies, but fall within three key themes;

  • Coaching – helping people get better at things e.g. managing their finances, managing their weight.
  • Caring – improving people’s health and wellness.
  • Connecting – man and machine, “traditional” and “shadow” IT, the physical and the virtual, commerce with ethics.

These 3C’s speak to a universal truth – that no matter how technological our age becomes ultimately we, as humans, want the human touch.

Work has been central to mankind for millennia. Our very names convey that fact; Baker, Brewer, Glover, Woodman, Wright, Mason, Judge, Weaver, Hunter, Dyer, Fisher. In the future work will continue to be core to our identities, our nature, our dreams, and our realities. But it won’t necessarily be the work we know or do now. Read the full 21 Jobs of the Future report to examine the new jobs that will be central to the future. You never know, one day, you might be doing one of them.