There was once a time when people used to talk of a future when nobody would have to work anymore. Instead of going out to earn money by doing jobs, the idea was that everything was done by robots while we all became people of leisure, simply spending our time enjoying ourselves. While this blissful-sounding utopia never quite came to be there is another side of the coin when it comes to technology and work. This is the fear that jobs will be taken away from people by technological advances. This fear really took hold in the 19th Century during the industrial revolution, but has continued ever since, and has seen some truth – as job losses in manufacturing as technology grew demonstrated. What is the future of work and therefore what areas are the best to look at when deciding on your own career?
It is a question that has puzzled experts for years, but it is safe to say that there are a few industries that should remain quite future-proof. Technology, for example, has grown exponentially over the last few decades, and shows no signs of slowing down. It is fair to say, therefore, that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) careers are set to continue needing people. Where computers have come in to assist many roles, people are still needed to operate, fix, or program them.
Perhaps then, rather than looking at specific industries for a clue to the future of work we ought to look to skills. Humans are needed, for example, to work with animals – since they don’t tend to react quite as well to computers as we do!
But, joking aside, it is a case of data versus human perception, or technology versus human emotion. Statistics and reports can only tell so much of the story – often it take people to examine and make sense of the figures. People are also needed to decision-making and emotive problem solving, For example, a set of statistics may tell you that a certain business practice is not good for your profits (such as paying tax instead of finding a loop-hole), but it may have a negative effect on how you are seen by your customers, and end up losing you trade. Examples of other skills that seem future-proof are those held by creative people, such as those who can come up with new ideas for business.
When it comes to choosing a career, you will need to look at your skills as well as what interests you. There are also considerations based on where you live and what the job market looks like. You might also have a preference for working at a large or a small organisation, or indeed you may not have much idea what you want to do at all!
While science fiction once dreamt of a time when robots did all the work, it seems we are still waiting for it to come to pass. So, in the meantime, you will need to start considering what you want to do for a living. However, on the other hand, while the future of the job market is something to consider, you should also aim for something that appeals to you.
Of course, if you are really stuck as to what you could do you can always look around you for some career inspiration.