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.


Unevenly Distributed

We made a conscious decision in writing What to Do When Machines Do Everything that we would focus on AI’s role in wealth creation – not wealth distribution. Modern western businesses, operating in hyper competitive capital markets, are focused on making money. How that money is spread through society is a secondary issue to the executives and business leaders that seek advice and guidance from Cognizant and The Center for the Future of Work.

But on our travels telling the story of AI http://www.futureofwork.com/article/details/six-months-on-the-ai-road in boardrooms and barrooms around the world, the same questions keep on coming up, sometimes openly, sometimes in whispered side conversations; “Ben – we get it; AI is the great story of our time. But what’s going to happen to workers automated away? What’s going to happen to folks left behind? Is the Fourth Industrial Revolution going to lead to a real revolution?”

These questions have hung openly and heavily in the air (along with the Mary Jane) here in San Francisco this week at the annual Salesforce.com user conference, Dreamforce. Amidst the excitement about Einstein (SFDC’s AI offering) session after session has focused on “inclusive capitalism”, “diversity”, “citizen coding”, “democratization of tech based opportunity”. There are clearly many, many business people who understand that even though their primary focus is on making money, the distribution of money issue can’t be entirely ignored.

Of course, San Francisco is the perfect back drop to discuss these questions. Perhaps nowhere in the world does the future clash so glaringly with the present as in the streets around the Moscone Center. Allbird clad, Jamba Juice sucking, tech masters of the universe scuttle past cardboard hugging, bug-eyed, lost souls, on their way to their 8am keynote presentation on “mindfulness”. Presiding over it all is the new Salesforce Tower, looming like T.J Eckleburg’s glasses in The Valley of Ashes. San Francisco is the geographical embodiment of the power of disruption, with all of its positive and negative consequences.

Given that the question of wealth distribution is so present, so pressing, and clearly so legitimate, what can be done to ensure that the incredible power of new AI based technologies and business models produces utilitarian outcomes, i.e. generates the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Answers here in SF have been thin on the ground, I’m afraid. Plenty of talk but an absence of solutions (and comfy seating).

As I see it, and as I’ve been telling anyone who’ll care to listen, there are really three approaches;

1 (the one that underpins our entire perspective presented in our book) – individuals, organizations and societies need to master the new tools to outperform their competition. Do that successfully – through education, training, and re-training - and you (personally, corporately, societally) will participate in a new golden age – the Code Rush.

2 try to stop (or at least) slow the power of AI based disruptive transformation to allow individuals, organizations and societies more time to adjust and adapt to the new Code Rules.

3 reconfigure society so that the current “winner takes all” philosophy, that pre-dates the rise of AI but which clearly AI could hugely exacerbate - is changed.

Popular amongst approaches 2 and 3 is the notion of a “universal basic income”. Tax the fruits of robot/AI based labor and distribute the monies in the form of a payment to everyone in society. Break the link between work and money and utopia is finally within reach, the argument goes. Attractive as it sounds, the idea of UBI breaks down very quickly when you get past the sexy sounding name. Would everyone get it? Even those happy in their work? How could people live on $5,000 or $10,000 (the numbers often bandied around as being the amount on offer) in New York? Let alone San Francisco. How could the US afford to pay the c.150m people in the workforce today? What about moral hazard? Wouldn’t the devil make work for millions of idle hands?

Forms of UBI are already in place in parts of the world today. Citizens in Norway and Saudi Arabia for example, flush with the spoils of oil that was oil before the new oil was code, pay “negative taxes” i.e. they receive payments from the government and don’t make payments to the government. But rather than being happy about it Norwegians, according to journalist Simon Saetre, “have been corrupted by their oil money, are working less, retiring earlier, and calling in sick more frequently”. http://bit.ly/2kVugA0.The recent turmoil amidst the ruling classes in Saudi Arabia http://nyti.ms/2yHnPH8 reflects a desire within a new generations of leaders to wean the Kingdom off the addictive drip of petrodollars, change the lotus-eating culture, and put the country to work. Neither country’s experiences provide compelling evidence that UBI is a model to be scaled around the world. UBI is a nice fantasy but not really a practical solution.

There are though a series of ideas and ways and means that could make approach 3 a reality. And surprisingly none of them are new, or weird, or utopian or fantastical. And even more surprisingly, none of them have received any airing at Dreamforce. Yet they are all tried and tested and have worked in the past, in countries around the world and for considerable periods of time;

1 Legislation - governments could (some do) enact laws that balance the playing field between capital and labor. President Roosevelt led the charge against American trusts in the early 20th Century, which in turn created the conditions for what is now widely seen as a golden age of American expansion and wide spread prosperity. Prime Minister Attlee introduced death duties in 1945 that defenestrated the British aristocracy, releasing an explosion of middle class energy that generated the Swinging Sixties and Cool Britannia.

2 Unions – many socio-economic commentators (including Thomas Pitteky) date the start of the latest era of wealth concentration to the collapse of unions at the hands of Ronald Regan and Margaret Thatcher. The notion of unionization remains deeply unfashionable amongst white collar workers (although professional bodies for doctors and lawyers that in effect work as unions are perfectly acceptable) but in a Newtonian world (for every force there is an opposite and equal reaction) it would not be beyond logic to imagine that “Labor” could once again organize to take on “Capital”.

3 Withdrawal of custom – in our present day market economy the ultimate power is the power of the market. As the original (and best) Stephen Colbert put it, “Global warming is real because Al Gore's movie made money— the market has spoken”. If you don’t like the way the world is going, and don’t like what companies are doing replacing people with software and machines, don’t buy from them. Buy from companies that are “people first”, not “AI first”. Some people don’t buy from Walmart because Walmart’s low prices knock out local independent competition who can’t compete on price. Use your purchasing power to be the change you want to see. Take it to another level and move to a town like Portland with an artisanal culture of man, not THE MAN, made.

4 Establish a “People First” business – start up a company that does not use AI, robotics, automation based software, or other labor saving devices, but rather favors employing people, and then win in the race against the machine, in the market.

Approaches 1 through 4 are things that could happen today. Could ... but don’t hold your breath.

The tax proposals in the US congress currently are unlikely to slow down our new robber barons.

Fledgling efforts to re-establish a credible union movement http://bit.ly/2hq3pYk seem to have a long way to go.

Me: “We should buy the lightbulbs from ACE”.

Wife: “But they’re cheaper at Walmart”.

Me: “Oh, ok then ...”

A “people first” business sounds good, but with no technology? Is that even doable nowadays?

Elements of approaches 1 through 4 may come to fruition in some form and in some configuration over the next few years, but the truth is that none of them are imminent. Legislative fixes are years, perhaps decades away. A societal rejection of low-prices (paying more for goods and services to protect employment and generate wage growth) is not on the horizon. Public capital markets would crucify a company that tried to operate by a completely new set of rules - as Snap is finding out, painfully, as I type.

And all the while the AI clock is ticking. All the while AI is re-shaping what organizations do and how they do it. All the while mastery of AI is becoming the key determining factor between success and failure in the world in which we live.

The discussion of wealth distribution is extraordinarily challenging and complex. Maybe we’ll only solve it when we apply AI to it. The Randians and Ghandians of San Francisco should perhaps start eating some of their own disruptive dog-food.

In the meantime there is one thing you can do. Read What to Do When Machines Do Everything to learn how to get ahead in a world of AI, algorithms, bots and big data. While the question of wealth distribution will swirl around us for the foreseeable future, undoubtedly revisited here again in SF at Dreamforce 2018, and will require the cooperation and coordination of thousands, if not millions of people, the wealth creation issue is right in front of you today, and what you do about it is entirely in your own hands.

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People, Place, Work.

By now you know the score: we’re moving through a significant economic shift; Business value increasingly accrues at the intersection of the physical and virtual worlds; Our connected cars, intelligent homes, emerging crypto currencies together signal a raft of new market niches and commercial opportunities that were unheard-of a mere 5 years ago. The power behind economic performance is irrevocably linked to how well a company innovates and marshal’s data around its value chain versus its competitors. The prize is lucrative for those that get it right. And the number of organizations that are beginning to get it right is growing (Bosch, GE, DHL etc. See my previous post).

Those lumbering organizations once struggling with legacy business models, bloated cost structures and zombie workforces are, we think turning a corner. They’re getting “match fit” for the opportunities ahead. The metabolism for innovation is rising as agile ways of working, higher rates of collaborating, and partnering proliferate while the platform becomes the default organizing principle for work. I think the job is only half done however. Until organizations radically change form to follow function, then they risk a digital stall. I’m keen to know if there is a radical need to realign not only people but also the places where people go and get work done. After all, place is still a proxy for culture.

I am beginning to think that the relationship between the places where work gets done and the people that work there is starting to change. This is because the dynamics surrounding how we work—nomadic work cultures, the growth of the gig economy, and the rise of talent clusters in many smaller, regional cities—are changing the concept of place and space for an organization and triggering a profound set of questions about what constitutes the corporate norms of how and where we work. Leaders have to ask themselves not just how employees will work together but where they will work together? What skills and capabilities does your firm need and how and where will it locate them? I think there is something more profound happening and its shows the relentless march of technology into every aspect of our lives. Our cities where people traditionally work are starting to change their look and feel.

Check out how the world’s tech giants, dripping with money and power, are changing the dynamics in and around our largest cities. From California to London, Google, Facebook and Apple are employing the world’s best architects to build awe inspiring symbols of their immense wealth and global power. Your jaw will drop when you see Apple Park: it’s a circle of glass designed to foster creativity and innovation and its obsession with detail is mindboggling: Its (German manufactured) windows provide the largest panels of curved glass anywhere on the planet while the planned underground theatre is truly something to behold. Then go and explore Google’s newly announced plans for its London HQ in the once seedy Kings Cross. It’s being called a “land scraper” with 92,000 square meters complete with a running track installed on its roof. These symbols of wealth and power could well be the smartest office space on the planet. But how far will the interaction between people and the place they work evolve? Will it be the shiny new world of Buck Rogers or the ominous territory staked out by Black Mirror?

Expect the tension between employers and their employees to grow. The implicit contract of trust sitting between both sides skews as intelligence grows around buildings and the occupants that work within them. A recent news story backs this up—Three Square, a US technology company wants to microchip its employees. The chip is the size of a grain of rice and will be implanted underneath the skin between thumb and forefinger (a bit like the bead inserted behind the ear in the ever ominous Black Mirror). The chip is optional (for now) and uses the same NFC technology that’s found in our contactless cards. With the chip employees can pay for food and drink, open doors, log onto computers and use other corporate resources. It makes sense when you consider that Three Square writes software for vending machines. That said, is there a danger that our employees become bits and bytes that can be tracked and gamified across the company? Would that work for you in your place of work?

Last year’s Future of Talent described a new work platform enabling employers to better understand the productive behavioral patterns of their workforce. We wrote how Bank of America uses sensory data to better understand employee performance dynamics and learned that; call center performance increased when staff had “hang time” with others in their social circle during lunch breaks. It then deliberately overlapped these lunch breaks, leading to a 23% increase in performance. So if we were to extrapolate...who would you choose to have in your team? The rabid “Brexiteer” or a bleeding heart liberal? What if a clever algorithm could augment your teams or co-locate staff to ensure space at work is harmonious and productive. Or perhaps you think a little “grit” makes a pearl.

Whatever you think, the places where we work are being supercharged with technology but the truth is they act as cultural barometers for people and the companies that inhabit them. Our previous work offered insights on how to enable people and how to enable leaders. Now we’re going to explore how to enable place?

PS. If you think chipping people won’t happen here in Europe then think again. A Swedish rail company started offering it’s passengers options of using a chip implanted into their hand in lieu of a paper train ticket...and we’re getting used to handing over our bodies to make our lives frictionless! The UK’s TSB bank announced it would become the first bank in Europe to introduce iris recognition on its mobile banking app. This stuff is creeping up on us fast.