What should you be telling your kids to do in the future?
Not production work, and not bureaucratic middle management.
They should be creative, know how to build and maintain housing, infrastructure and automated machines; and hopefully be entertaining and caring.
Inventors, Creators: Artists, designers, architects, planners, inventors
Builders, implementers: Plumbers, carpenters, programmers, engineers
Maintainers: cleaners, fixers, and patchers (many of the builders and implementers will also need to do maintenance)
Carers and educators: parenting, schooling, teaching, lifting, feeding and even bathing of those that need help.
Entertainers; making us laugh. Actors, comedians, footballers etc.
I could add many other current jobs/professions to the list above but you will find all fit into one of these types, (let’s call them vocations), or at least the important parts of that vocation.
Take a writer/journalist; they are creators and educators. A novel is more creative; an explanation of blockchain technology, educational.
Why is this important?
We must know which jobs to automate away and which ones to keep. Some make us fulfilled because they suit our particular aptitudes, others don’t make anyone happy. Salt mine anyone? I believe The above vocations are fulfilling for most if not all people. I like creating and building, seeing something at the end of my efforts is very satisfying - even better if others appreciate it. Teaching others seems natural to many, and what else is good conversation than teaching, learning and coming to new conclusions. The only category I don’t find fulfilling is maintaining, but I have met others that prefer it to creating or building. Some find great satisfaction in editing others' work, bringing an old car back to life and patching up the leaky roof. I contemplated rolling carers and educators into maintainters as much of the caring is maintaining the body, feeding the mind. However I think there is another element to caring and educating that is more personal than maintaining a building or farm.
The other reason we need to know the vocations of the future is that some old fashioned things may remain, like earning an income through employment and creating things to make life better for yourself and others.
My desire from the above list is to give people a frame in which to align their interests and aptitudes into something that should fulfill them in life and as a side effect make us as a group flourish.
There’s crossover in many of these vocations but if you are a child today you must think, am I an implementer/builder or an entertainer? Or at least which do I prefer over the other and to which my talents match. Also careers advisors, psychologists and legislators should use these groupings to free children from the current purpose of education being a narrow stream toward university or a trade or as a production unit. We, for a long time have focused most of our young lives on earning an income in the future through jobs that are just not necessary and worse they are unfulfilling.
I truly hope the age of specialization is over but I doubt it. So many fields in the sciences and engineering require 30 plus years of dedication before one becomes proficient. With more leisure perhaps we can all learn more of the current specialised fields as we will need more people that can pull them together into one grand idea or project.
No vocation as a whole should be more valued or pay better than another. As we require them all.
You should have noticed the missing vocations, the ones that employ most people today .. Advertising: selling yourself and others products, politics: middle management looking after their careers in a great mess of policy, and production: doing what machines can easily do.
I’ll quote Bertrand Russell here:
“First of all: what is work? Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid. The second kind is capable of indefinite extension: there are not only those who give orders, but those who give advice as to what orders should be given. Usually two opposite kinds of advice are given simultaneously by two organized bodies of men; this is called politics. The skill required for this kind of work is not knowledge of the subjects as to which advice is given, but knowledge of the art of persuasive speaking and writing, i.e. of advertising”
Most people in rich countries are email forwarders in a colossal bureaucratic game of Chinese Whispers. Overpaid and fearful they may lose their position in the hierarchy at any time or worse be responsible for a mistake that affects real people. They (we) spin, dodge, create policy, implement change, and brag. They (we) are the courtiers of our time.
There can always be more courtiers, and spin, and policies and contracts, and interpretations and instructions, and meetings. But they (we) create little of real value.
The poor slave as labourers doing the jobs machines could easily do if only capital was put toward building them. This is only because poor people are cheaper and more disposable than capital (real capital… machines). You can hire and train a person to sew a shirt much faster than to build a machine to do the same and a lot cheaper. Most importantly if the orders dry up there aren’t any consequences you just fire them. With a machine you may still be paying off the debt.
Production and Advertising/politics should be, and could be displaced now but it could also have been done 40 years ago, as Barry Jones suggested in his 1980’s book Sleepers Wake. He thought we would be in a situation of an elite with the money and power (yes) and a populous with leisure and a Universal Income (No!!).
He wrote that 40 years ago!!! We have not progressed. We need to catch up. In many ways we are more backward, no moon landings, no supersonic air travel, no hovercrafts across the channel, no excitement.
I have digressed.
The importance of each vocation is subjective but work will still exist, whether this work will attract an income will be up to us. And whether income should be attached to labour is also our choice. If we have freedom.
Our aim as always should be to eliminate work; the toil that detracts from a good leisurely productive life.
Caring, education and entertainment are the only ones I see as being absolutely necessary in the distant future, The only ones we must do.
Most importantly we have lost the ability to raise ourselves above the day-to-day. The tweet, the email, the next purchase, the bill needing payment, the job and the side hustle. In the old days when things went bad people turned to the bible and the gods and that raised them above their troubles. Intellectuals of the time before TV had Chaucer and Camus. We have QAnon.
Jobs of the future will allow us to keep our minds on higher things.