Strap yourself in for a look at how the jobs market might change over the coming decades
It’s December 2025, you’ve parked your hover-bike, ascended 140 floors through a high-speed perspex tube, downloaded your morning messages directly into your mind, and have just explained to your colleagues that sadly your father was made redundant after years as a moon architect – “There’re just too many on the market these days”…
Well, perhaps not. For the foreseeable future it looks like most of us may still be rattling into work on overcrowded public transport systems and working in traditional open-plan offices.
But as the demands of our species change due to technological and scientific evolution, jobs quickly come and go. The children of filing clerks in the late seventies are likely to be gaining jobs as social media managers today – a position that had barely been explored until the Twitter and Facebook era.
But are we working to meet the demands of likely job vacancies of the future?
Yvonne Smyth, director, Hays, the recruitment expert, says that there are major mismatch issues around the skills demanded by businesses and those available in the working population. This issue needs to be addressed today, let alone the far future.
A recent report by the firm, the Global Skills Index, is a call to arms for the need to re-focus policy-makers to deliver programmes to address is – centered around education, in demand skills and targeted immigration. Smyth says: “The skills mismatch is a fundamental global issue. We need clear policies on skills migration and must ensure that education is aligned to what businesses need today and tomorrow.”
Looking further ahead, Futurologists – specialists in spotting upcoming trends – work to provide information to businesses and governments detailing what could be coming round the corner. There is broad agreement that technological and medical developments are going to be major areas for employment growth.
Rohit Talwar, CEO of Fast Future, a research consultancy, echoes concerns that UK skills and education standards are declining in key areas, including maths and technology.
“We are at a turning point in history where science and technological excellence are critical to economic survival,” says Talwar. “We don’t seem to understand that investors will take the industries of tomorrow to where they believe there is the strongest pool of talent, the best infrastructure and the most supportive economic environment.”
The government’s recent announcement of fast-track visas for tech experts is, however, a step in the right direction.
With a profusion of exciting professions waiting round the corner, it’s no surprise that there is urgency behind calls for the UK to up its game.
But what are those jobs, and what will they involve? Strap yourselves in for a journey through time, and catch a glimpse of what tomorrow holds…
1. Virtual reality architects
Advancements in virtual reality technology will eventually make this sector “massively bigger than the internet,” according to both Talwar and Dr Ian Pearson, a futurist.
Augmented reality is in embryonic stages, and is not wildly impressive yet. But the goal is to take computer-generated environments and superimpose them onto the real world, from creating impossible buildings, to choosing how the people you come across appear to you.
Pearson says: “You might look at a completely plain office block and see a spectacularly interesting building in augmented reality. It’s going to be a source of a whole new kind of work.”
“If you look at how many web designers were created by the web, then you will see more than that number being created by augmented reality in terms of digital architecture and avatar design and populating the virtual streets with interesting stuff.”
2. Weather modification police
Threats to water supplies already have major political implications, and as weather modification technology improves, so does the problem of controlling its use. Cloud seeding, usually used as a method of increasing precipitation in drought prone areas, has been around since the 1950s, and the UN has already banned weather modification as a form of warfare.
According to Fast Future, policing weather modification will involve tracking unusual weather events to explore potential illegal activity. Scientists will play a key role in this policing function, analysing rain and soil samples to identify the presence of possible modification agents.
3. ‘Pharmer’ of genetically engineered crops and livestock
As global populations continue to grow and flock to urban areas, a whole host of new jobs are set to develop around food production. In 2011, 160 million hectares of bio-tech crops were grown, using 10% of the world’s arable land, according to international bio-tech NGO the ISAAA, representing an increase from 2010 of 8%.
According to the team at Fast Future Research, new-age farmers will grow crops and keep animals that have been genetically engineered to provide more food that is easier to produce and better for our health.
In addition, our food may soon be used for wider application than merely feeding us. In Spain, researchers from the Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular Plantas in Valencia have developed a vaccine-carrying blue tomato. The colour change is to prevent the medical fruit from ending up in the regular food chain.
4. Health care specialists and wellness managers
There will be a boom in the number of roles in the care profession, says Pearson.
“At the moment there have been job cuts in social work,” he says. “It’s a headline problem already and is already causing problems, and the government is going to have to accept that social work is going to have to increase rather than decrease.”
As medicine advances, aging populations will demand improved care standards. Private healthcare consultants will help their aged clients with a range of medical and social care issues.
5. Spaceship pilots and space tour guides
We’ve all seen the future in science fiction films, and it is filled with spaceships docking with each other and blasting off to various galaxies. In reality, space tourism isn’t light-years away. Companies such as Virgin Galactic and Space Adventures are looking to capitalise on interest in space voyages, while the Russian Space Agency has already conducted a small number of trips to the International Space Station with paying customers. Current projects at the Sasakawa International Centre for Space Architecture at the University of Houston include a greenhouse on Mars, lunar outposts and space exploration vehicles.
The first commercial services could emerge as early as next year, according to Talwar, who says many of the firms entering the market are already recruiting crews.
That’s a lot of lawyers…
With technological advancements come new jobs, while many established roles are suddenly consigned to the history books. For example, in Paris in the seventeenth century, thousands of people were immediately made redundant when a new sewerage system put waste-water carriers out of work.
Today, the increasing use of drones in war zones may soon put soldiers out of work, while medical innovations such as biotechnology and robotics could eventually play a major role in surgery, reducing the demand for surgeons.
But some jobs will never be replaced. As technological advancements are made, the laws which govern their use must adapt.
“Technology can create as many lawyers as it does engineers because of the problems that are created,” says futurist Dr Ian Pearson.
But which other roles are here to st
ay? We put our money on politicians, prostitutes and undertakers. It seems that sex, death and arguing will always have currency…
Which job roles do you think will rule the future? Tweet us @Londonlovesbiz and @HaysNews