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.