No one can predict what jobs, or the jobs market, will look like in the future.
The perennial graduate job interview question ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ now lends itself to a more flexible answer than ever before. Will you be travelling to a relatively humdrum office job in a self-driving car? Making a 30-minute business trip to Australia via a newly opened space port? Working entirely remotely in a pod stuffed with smart technology from the Internet of Things? Or will you perhaps be rifling through the wreckage of one of the beforetimes’ abandoned cities, desperately striving to avoid the attention of your super-mutant overlords?
The reality is that no one can truly predict what jobs, or the jobs market, will look like in the future, particularly thanks to the ever-increasing speed of technological evolution. In 1995, for example, Robert Metcalfe, the co-inventor of ethernet, famously predicted that the internet would catastrophically collapse in 1996. Similarly, in 2007, Steve Ballmer, the Microsoft CEO at the time, said that the iPhone would never obtain a significant share of the telecommunications market.
There is no way to be 100% certain, but there are usually three good indications of what can be expected:
Below, we take a look at some examples from each of these categories:
Future jobs according to the market – science and tech focused
An initial public offering (IPO) is a good metric to tell when an already big or popular company is about to explode into an Amazon or Facebook-esque mega corporation. Some, such as Uber and Lyft, rely on moving the power of the public through an app to provide a game-changing service, while others might be more indicative of broader societal changes. We’ve chosen three from 2019 that we think sum up where the future jobs market is heading:
One of the most talked about IPOs on the other side of the pond was California start-up Beyond Meat, a company offering vegan products in the form of ‘plant-based meat’, securing contracts with many household names in the US, including McDonald’s. As concerns about sustainability and the effects of climate change become louder worldwide, it seems that food has the right balance of life-sustaining necessity and consumer appeal as to affect the job market.
Food has the right balance of life-sustaining necessity and consumer appeal as to affect the job market.
Among the roles likely to be sought are:
- Food technologists, who are responsible for developing and maintaining the processes that create new types of food
- Food scientists, who examine the microbiological, physical and chemical properties of food to make sure they are safe (and tasty)
- Flavour chemists, who concoct or improve new flavours in food, either to enhance the original taste or alter it completely.
Graduates seeking to enter these fields will need a related degree, such as food science, nutrition, biology or chemistry. You can find out more about food science or technology roles by visiting our job descriptions:
Cybersecurity expert/devops engineer
Unsurprisingly there is at least one tech IPO on the list of 2019’s biggest. Crowdstrike, a cloud-based cybersecurity platform, has seen its shares grow despite net losses. In an era of GDPR compliance, ever-increasing state surveillance and the looming prospect of cyberwarfare with hostile foreign powers on the horizon, protecting your business is going to be an increasing concern.
Among the roles likely to be sought are:
- Developers to problem solve and write code for various applications
- Systems developers to create a system for businesses or for the cloud to handle the software
- Devops engineers to ensure that it is all delivered to the public
Graduates with a computer science or software development background or extensive experience in coding will be highly sought after. Check out our IT and technology advice to find out more about these roles.
Wellbeing and fitness instructor
The last, admittedly underperforming, IPO of note in 2019 was New York tech/fitness start-up Peloton. Part tech company, part manufacturer and retailer, Peloton is symptomatic of the general move towards fitness wearables, fitness technology and the steady move away from high streets and into the home for products and services.
While the usual host of engineering and IT positions will likely take the forefront, being able to blend STEM experience with qualifications in fitness, sports coaching and sports science will open up opportunities to work either in a customer-facing role or internally to make sure a company’s teams are fitness aware and mindful of wellbeing.
Among the roles within the wearable/sports tech companies are:
- Sports scientist
- Technical sports scientist
- Health and fitness coach
Check out our job descriptions of sports coaching or sports development for more information:
Future jobs according to the government – the fundamentals
At the end of December 2014, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills put together a report, entitled Careers of the Future, highlighting jobs that the authors felt provided an exciting mix of opportunity, reward and long-term potential. They drew on a wealth of government data and expert advice for the results. There are three examples below:
The UK population of over-75s is set to increase from 5.4 million (according to the ONS in 2018) to 9.5 million in 2037. The ageing population is expected to boost the already high demand for care jobs and associated industries.
Graduates wishing to go into this industry will likely need a qualification that meets the Health and Care Professions Council standards or will need to undertake a postgraduate qualification to match. There are other routes in for school leavers.
Take a look at the related advice on TARGETjobs below:
- Social worker
- How does Frontline differ from other routes into social work?
- Public service, charity and social work advice
Nurses are always in high demand, and that demand is also expected to grow massively, but any career in medicine requires a longer, more defined approach to study. See the job description on TARGETjobs for more information or visit our healthcare sector.
Engineers and programmers
There is a shortfall in engineers each year of approximately 20,000. As well as the ‘traditional’ engineering disciplines, such as mechanical and electrical engineering, there is increasing demand for specialisms in data science, machine learning, automation and robotics. Similarly, there is a rising demand for developers, programmers, cybersecurity engineers and devops engineers to work with emerging technology in IT.
There is a shortfall in engineers each year of approximately 20,000.
Take a look at our advice on engineering and IT careers to find out more about graduate roles in these areas:
Someone is going to have to teach all these engineers and care workers what they need to know. The third largest predicted increase behind care workers and nurses, teachers are already highly sought after. The government report does admit that the qualification process is currently quite long, with many requiring postgraduate qualification and, while contracted hours are low, unpaid ‘duties’ increase the working week.
You can find out all you need to know about becoming a teacher from our advice on careers in teaching and education:
Future jobs according to the press – quirky and dystopian
Depending on which newspaper you read or television channel you watch, the future is going to be a very different place. Whether you’re chowing down on environmentally friendly food and going to your day job as an in-house artist at a vape store for four days a week, or are painting your house with the St George’s flag and and chowing down on good old-fashioned roast dinner as you discipline your chimney sweep via a sternly worded letter, there are stories from all angles in the last year that make the careers market look very different indeed.
Professional video gamer
More and more universities are including esports modules in video game design courses.
This year the revenue from esports (professional video games) is expected to reach more than $1bn (£812m). Tournament prize money now often exceeds $1m in the big leagues and some of the best players in the world are believed to earn salaries of well over $5m each year. While there are a few staple games that are played worldwide in competition, the number of those released with an intent to become the next big esport is always increasing. Both the US and UK now show ‘live’ esports on television, and both the Olympics and the Asian Games are considering giving esports a slot during their respective events. But how does one progress to professional video gamer? Many of the current generation (few over 30 years of age) have put in the practice to ‘git gud’, but more and more universities are including esports modules in video game design courses, starting esports teams or even creating a brand-new undergraduate degree in esports. Currently both Staffordshire and Chichester are offering degrees in the subject, with a focus on the business of esports, covering everything from organisation to regulation, marketing and culture.
Slave to a robotic master
Automation is expected to wipe out the jobs of approximately 800 million global workers by 2030.
Automation is expected to wipe out the jobs of approximately 800 million global workers by 2030 (according to a report by consultancy McKinsey), but the good news is that about 20 million of those will be able to transfer to another skilled role. If you think that white collar careers are safe, then think again. Paralegals, lawyers, mortgage brokers, journalists, accountants, general office staff, drivers and more are all thought to be at risk of losing jobs to automation. Bartenders, doctors and teachers, among other professions that require human interaction, are expected to suffer lower losses. That said, a recent exhibition at the Barbican in London showed off an entirely robotic bar tender mixing drinks and a burger joint in California has already started using a fully automated ‘burger flipping robot’. There have also been reports that data science and technology are evolving to the state where it may be cheaper and more effective to replace doctors with AI and data science, leading to a trial run of such a programme at University College London hospitals. As such, much of humanity will soon become devoted to maintaining the few robots that cannot maintain themselves, except for the programmers, who will lead the war of resistance.
Chief happiness officer
Assuming we are only left with the jobs that the robots are too smart to do, the world is going to be a more depressing place than it already is. The UK has already dropped down the global ‘workplace happiness’ rankings to tenth place and is sitting two points below the global average. Mental health and wellbeing are being talked about more publicly in workplaces and it has been shown that mindfulness meditation can influence certain conditions such as depression. This increased awareness led to an odd phenomenon at US companies a couple of years ago – the appointment of chief happiness officers (CHOs).
The role of a CHO was to assess the wellbeing of the team and work with staff and external experts to create a ‘happy’ environment.
The role of a CHO was to assess the wellbeing of the team and work with staff and external experts to create a ‘happy’ environment for employees. This could be done via a system of perks, environmental or cultural changes, educational sessions or alternative therapies. Should it be the boom employment in the post-human future, a qualification in human resources or psychology is recommended. There are also a number of happiness/wellness schools that purport to offer qualifications in different fields (please do common sense research into the authenticity of such establishments and the true viability of such a career pathway. TARGETjobs does not advocate risking your entire future on a ‘happiness diploma’).
The above article is designed to inform and entertain. We never recommend using the predictions of strangers on the internet to determine an accurate vision of the future. Instead, make your career choices based on your own passions, skills and aptitude, and use the articles on targetjobs.co.uk to inform those decisions and make the best applications you can.