Our most coveted jobs could be obsolete in just four years.
Think about it. Your bank lets you do business with it through its ATMs, mobile apps, and special USSD codes. You may even have your questions answered by its customer service chatbot. This means your good old bank cashier or customer care agent isn’t exactly indispensable anymore. As a result, banks may afford to hire less of them.
This transformation is going on across much of the business world: in finance, trade, manufacturing, communications, education, health. Whole job roles are being redefined or erased, and new ones are coming into being. You might not be aware of this, but we are in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution. And you’d better be ready for the changes that are coming.
The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report gives us an insight into what the jobs landscape could be like in 2022. The document, published just this year, lets us into current projections for job trends over the next four years, as seen by the experts. One thing looms large throughout its 100+ pages: it’s not going to be business as usual.
If the report mirrors the reality of the next few years, we’ll be witnessing the emergence of a host of new job roles, and the waning of many others. But it’s the speed at which the report says it could happen that makes it a fascinating (or concerning) read.
The big changes on the way
In fact, what we’re likely to see is an acceleration in current trends. Here’s a list of professionals who’re going to be in high demand in the near future, as presented by the World Economic Forum.
- Data analysts and scientists
- AI and Machine Learning specialists
- General and operations managers
- Big data specialists
- Digital transformation specialists
- Sales and marketing professionals
- New technology specialists
- Organizational development specialists
- Software and applications developers and analysts
- Information Technology services
You’ve probably noticed that this list is heavily biased in favour of tech-related occupations. It’s not hard to see why this is the case. We’re getting more dependent on technology, and we’ll need more tech-specialists to help develop new gadgets and systems and maintain or upgrade existing ones. There’s already movement in this direction: software development is becoming a thing in these parts.
As these ’emerging jobs’ take up a bigger slice of the job landscape, a number of older professions will become less important. According to the World Economic Forum, these ‘redundant roles’ will include the following:
- Data entry clerks
- Accounting, bookkeeping and payroll clerks
- Administrative and executive secretaries
- Client information and customer service workers
- Business services and administration workers
- Accountants and auditors
- Material recording and stock keeping clerks
- General and operations managers
- Postal service clerks
- Financial analysts
These jobs will be less sought after in the coming years because many of the tasks they involve are being automated. Cloud-enabled accounting and payroll software, as well as machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, are doing more of these things and doing them more efficiently.
However, not every ‘old’ job will be swept aside by the ongoing disruptions of the old professions. We’ll still need Managing Directors and Chief Executives to run companies, and there’ll be plenty of work for sales and marketing professionals to do.
The highly priced skills of the future
Manual, computational and basic communication skills won’t cut it anymore in tomorrow’s world. An employer could have AI systems and machines do these things instead. If you’re tempted to roll your eyes at this, just think back to the bank cashier example we gave at the beginning.
Maybe we’ll eventually lose (or give) all our work to robots. But there’s a lot that robots won’t be able to do for a while yet- things that us humans will have to do ourselves. Entrepreneurs and employees will need the following skills to create and hold down the jobs of the future.
- Analytical thinking and innovation
- Creativity, originality and initiative
- Active learning and learning strategies
- Technology design and programming
- Complex problem solving
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Stress tolerance and flexibility
Employers already seek people with these skills; an increased dependence on technology will mean that they’ll become even more commonplace requirements in the business world, as the more basic roles get filled by automated systems.
Things won’t always remain the way they are. If you’re making your way up the career ladder or wanting to start a business that’ll last, you need to have your eyes on the changes that are taking place in our spaces and take advantage of them.