The Future of Jobs is Bright

The future can seem like a very scary prospect, especially if you trust everything you read in the media. If some are to be believed the robots will take your job, and they may be right. All of this could happen. But don’t forget we’ve been here before.

David Quinn: BrightHR Social Media Manager

The future can seem like a very scary prospect, especially if you trust everything you read in the media. If some are to be believed, the robots will not only take your job but they’ll create a whole ‘useless class’ of people too, there will be super diseases that are immune to even the most advanced medicines and you will be able to be monitored wherever you go. They may be right. All of this could happen.

But don’t forget we’ve been here before. Three times in fact. The first industrial revolution brought the power of water and steam to drive the new machinery of the day. The second brought about huge efficiencies through electricity and mass production methods. And the third and most recent, the digital revolution, is helping us to simplify and automate many processes. In each of these cases there was a huge effect on the job market and many traditional jobs were ultimately lost. Think about the recent past and the legions of typists and phone operators that companies had to hire before the advent of the digital age.

Just as jobs are inevitably lost, brand new jobs are also created. And it will be the same again in the fourth revolution. We will find a way to adapt the job market to suit the new world which we live in.

But what might the industries of the future look like after this upcoming fourth revolution?

Changing the way we work

Is the way we work already shifting? You only have to look at the emerging ‘gig economy’ - at companies such as Uber, Deliveroo and Hermes - to see that that people are starting to choose work on a freelance basis; choosing their own hours and fitting their working lives around their already-busy commitments, such as child care.

This growing trend isn’t just limited to the service or delivery sector either, many experienced professionals are turning their backs on the old ways of the 9-5 working day and choosing to go it alone. And it isn't just the employee that benefits, employers are reaping the rewards as well. In the freelance economy small businesses can now hire experts on a project to project basis, therefore gaining much-needed expertise without having to commit to large annual salaries. Employers can also benefit with the fluctuating workloads, hiring freelancers as and when the work is needed, therefore saving money whilst satisfying their own customer demands.

If the doom and gloom is correct and there is a reduction of jobs due to a technological revolution we may all need to consider this part-time, flexible work as a more viable option. Instead of having one career over our lifetime we may have several and potentially we could have a couple jobs on the go at any one time.

Instead of climbing the traditional corporate ladder employees could zig zag, either internally or externally, from one job role to another. Developing experience, skills and networks as they go. And whilst there are still some concerns that policy hasn’t quite caught up with this emerging trend, once it has you can expect this style of working to take off even further.

Out of this world travel

Virtual reality is becoming much more prevalent and the boundaries between the real world and the virtual world are starting to blur. Just think about Pokemon Go. This continued development could bring about a whole new tourism sector, where people could experience different parts of the planet whilst never travelling there. With improvements to 4K video and the inclusion of immersive sound and smells, individuals could be transported to a village in the Amazon rainforest and never leave their sofa.

Take this one stage further to actual travel itself. If we do need travel in the future what might it look like? Will faster travel be available? Driverless cars are already around the corner, so to speak. Companies such as Boom are working on the next wave of supersonic passenger planes, whilst companies such as Virgin Galactic and Space X are looking a little further afield into the commercial world of space flights.

If these developments are realised then there will be many jobs that could potentially be created from driverless car mechanics, virtual tour guides to spacecraft pilots. Many new roles on the ground and in space could replace or augment the travel industry which employs so many today.

The new wellness professional

For every decade, life expectancy rises in the UK. Data from World Bank showed that average life expectancy in 1960 was 71 years old; in 2014 this had risen to 81. At this rate we’ll hit an average life expectancy of 90 by 2070, if not before, through ever-quickening medical and technological advances. We’ll also see more and more people hitting the 100 mark. This longer life will create more jobs for the future, as we’ll need more people to look after this new age group. But then there are also jobs that will be created around the products, fashion and services that this older generation will need.

Wearables such as the Fitbit and Apple Watch are already big business; with over 3 million devices sold in the UK in 2015, a growth of 118% from 2014. And the technology, along with the size of the market, is only set to grow. But don’t think this market is limited to humans, the pet wearable market has also been tipped to become a multi-million pound, if not billion pound, industry by the early 2020s.

But what if wearables stop being wearable and become internal? Instead of having a watch that monitored your health what if internal sensors could tell you something is wrong before you even realise? This could create a whole wave of new jobs from health data analysts, biotech engineers, DNA-based pharmacists to digital opticians.

Back to the old school

With technology becoming an integral part of our lives there may be an opportunity to find work in more old-fashioned, non-digital, leisure related jobs. Imagine the surge in ‘retro’ hobbies like carpentry or making music. And it's not too far-fetched.

In 2015 vinyl records enjoyed their best sales in the US since 1988. This was, according to Fortune magazine, ‘fuelled by that unique sound quality and a nostalgia wave’. Even artists such as Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift started to release their new records on the medium. So you never know what the jobs of the future could hold, they may just be centred on the hobbies of the past.

Want to know more about the Future of Jobs why not download BrightHR’s latest report.