Ever wonder what careers might look like 20 years from now?
While perhaps it’s not the question keeping most of us up at night, it is worth a thought, particularly when considering what the driving forces behind these changes might be (technology, we’re looking at you), and what pre-planning and pivots might be necessary to keep up with the times, such as early education curriculums and tertiary degrees.
In my role as a futurist, in partnership with employment experts, , I identify and uncover future trends we can anticipate in the employment market over the next two decades and ponder both what will have brought about some of these significant changes, and what impact this will have on traditional job roles.
With consistent advancements in technology, it’s unquestionable that things will be different in a decade or two.
So, what do I predict as some of the significant shifts that will impact careers 20 years from now?
Here are the top industries that I anticipate seeing significant change, and an insight into what some of the new roles we should expect are.
Food science specialists
Already ever developing, the food sector will broaden considerably with a slew of new roles centred around food sciences by 2040.
Roles such as 4D printed food technician, cultured meat scientist, synthetic food designer, food as medicine nutritionist and food bank logistic officer will be the norm in years to come.
We’re already witnessing a food science surge when considering the attention around plant based alternatives, harvesting strategies and packaging, and this will only continue to grow and evolve.
In a positive move for our planet, much of this technology will focus on more sustainable farming and cultivation methods, too.
Driverless transport and logistics
With driverless cars a concept within clutching distance, the transport and logistics industry is set for drastic change.
What we can expect is more efficiency in the way we move around, namely that owning a car will no longer be the norm.
Teenagers in 2040 will expect their tech to autonomously organise a ride share, hire them a bike, book and pay for public transport, provide walking directions or provide options on how to get "there".
So whilst physical drivers will become near obsolete, those developing and managing the technologies will have the opportunity to thrive.
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Energy engineers, experts, architects
Thankfully, another sector we can expect to be thriving come 2040 is energy. When considering some of the source sites of energy, safety is a huge consideration.
Enter advancements in virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) coupled with adoption of the internet of things (IoT), and it may be sooner rather than later that we see workers being trained without having to step foot on dangerous development sites or come into contact with hazardous chemicals.
This industry will also welcome roles such as drone data analysts to evaluate whether a site is safe for exploration instead of site inspectors, and predictive analytics to give operators the heads up when equipment is nearing a maintenance check.
We’ll also have future career choices in Digital Twinning Simulation Developers and Digital Twin Engineering and Manufacturing.
An area we anticipate to see the largest increase in new jobs will be health. A no brainer (pun intended) after 2020 — but as we're living for longer (Australia is currently ranked 5 out of 35 developed countries for life expectancy), there is going to be a shift in health practices. The focus will be on wellness and self care jobs, along with new technology advances in these areas.
In terms of accessibility, a buzzword floating around hospital hallways is 'radically interoperable data', which basically means that all data on people — regarding health and otherwise — will be integrated and available for both research and action.
A development that is anticipated to be a linchpin of future healthcare, this in itself is an enormous undertaking, requiring experts on data analysis, data ownership and data security, alongside protocol and legal experts to name just a few.
IT Technicians and developers
It seems obvious, however it must be made clear that with all of this discussion around tech reliance, there will be an almost insatiable demand for both critical and creative thinkers to continue to provide solutions for the efficiencies we will have come to expect.
Roles we may not have yet heard of will become commonplace, with titles such as auto advisor, AI translator, VR architect, human e-Sources manager and AI ethicist (as we can’t rely on computers to have morals) will undoubtedly start to creep into job boards such as leading employment experts, SEEK.
So, what’s the key takeout here? For one, it would be adopting change and the opportunities that it presents. Being open to new opportunities and curious to learn is a highly helpful mindset to have along with our human traits.
It’s key to bear in mind that the generation of young professionals who will be scouring SEEK job boards after graduating high school in 2040 will be starting their Kindergarten education in just seven years.
So if you’re a parent or caregiver, don’t go dismissing some of the more interesting sounding education electives just yet; they could provide very useful skills in years to come.
Morris Miselowski is a futurist at SEEK.