What with the inexorable march of technology – which sometimes seems more like a relay race – it’s interesting to speculate on which occupations will be most in demand five years or ten years from now.
That seems pretty reasonable. But what about 20 years on?
Is it even possible to predict which jobs will be most in demand by then – particularly in the tech sphere? Or is that a fool’s errand, destined to elicit howls of laughter should anyone deign to look back at 2020 predictions when 2040 rolls around?
As it happens, the prognosticators at British multinational defense, security and aerospace company BAE Systems are willing to stick their necks out on the topic. They asked their own futurists to tell the what the top jobs in tech might be in 2040.
In broad terms, the answer is that future jobs will be in professions that bridge technology. More significantly, it will be the technology that is the primary job generator, not the profession itself.
But it you really want to bottom-line it, anyone who focuses on artificial intelligence, virtual reality or robotics should be able to future-proof his or her career. At least, that’s the unmistakable takeaway from the jobs that have been earmarked as the “hottest” ones looking ahead 20 years.
And … here they are:
AI Translator – People in these jobs will train other humans as well as their artificial intelligence assistants or robot counterparts, tailoring AI to meet workers’ needs and tune it to acknowledge and correct human errors. Smart-aleck machinery – it’s just what the world’s been waiting for …
Recommended educational background: IT studies, cybersecurity, mechanical engineering
Automation Advisor – As companies become more reliant on automation and robotics, people in these jobs will make sure that the automated workforce is in line with regulations. Compliance officers for machines – why not?
Recommended educational background: Physics, mechanical engineering, robots
VR Architect – As AI models are used to predict maintenance, people in these jobs will use virtual and augmented reality to monitor components and manage maintenance activities. That’s OK – plant maintenance has always been a responsibility with a lot of downsides …
Recommended educational background: IT studies, graphic design
Human e-Sources Manager – Differing from today’s human resources managers, people in these jobs will analyze data collected from exoskeletons, smart textiles, wearables and the like to perform predictive and preventive maintenance on human workers. Isn’t that nice; sensors will now send alerts to your manager when you’re overworked, overstressed, overweight or otherwise unwell — brilliant!
Recommended educational background: Biology, medicine, psychology
Systems Farmer – people in these jobs will help companies grow large multifunction parts with nanoscale features, which will sense, process, harvest energy and perform self-repairs. It’s otherwise known as “chemputing” – and it’s likely as unappealing as it sounds.
Recommended educational background: Biology, chemical engineering, chemistry
AI Ethicist – As autonomous systems are assigned more responsibility, people in these positions will make sure AI devices and robots don’t show bias, and will make decisions that best serve the business. I wonder how well that initiative will turn out?
Recommended educational background: Math, history, philosophy
Kidding or snark aside, it is worthwhile to “navel-gaze” along these lines and think of the “what if” scenarios that could very likely paint an employment picture unlike anything we’ve ever contemplated before.
And indeed, BAE Systems fielded research that found that nearly half of people between the ages of 16 and 24 who were surveyed think that they’ll end up having a career in a job that doesn’t even exist yet.
The only problem is – practically no one surveyed had any sort of clue what that future job will be — or how to prepare for it.
What do you think about which jobs will have the most job security in 2040? Does the list above ring true, or are there others that deserve a place on it as well? Please share your thoughts with other readers here.