There’s no way around it : work is changing. However, regardless of what hundreds (oh god so many) of uninformed (oh god so uninformed) articles will argue on the matter, work is not going away anytime soon, however worthy of our time that discussion may be. Work is, in fact, ever-changing, ever-evolving, always progressively, never at once, as we create new problems as fast as we solve old ones. Case and point: technology allowed us to “invent” the Gig Economy, which led to all kinds of NEW, EXCITING, frankly terrible jobs.
So, if work won’t disappear, but roles will evolve because of technology, demographic shifts, urbanisation, scarcity, climate change… what jobs should our kids aspire to grab once out of Space-University? Back in my days, professional gamer and Youtuber were not a thing, but those professions now bring millions to the youths talented and dedicated enough to fulfill those roles, with many kids aspiring to walk in their idols’ footsteps. Clearly, anything is possible.
With that in mind, below are 18 made-up roles that are likely to become reality within the next 20 years.
The New Platforms JobsEdge Computing Manager
When does IoT go from high-tech R&D to the low-end stores? 5 years? 10 years? Probably less. Either way, when the technology becomes democratised, someone will need to be in charge of answering the following key questions, and more. Which object to connect? Does a connected T-shirt really answer a specific needed? Which data is interesting from a business standpoint? What infrastructure will need to be adapted? Created? What long-term business impact is expected? What UX for those connected objects? What about legacy systems? An Edge Computing Manager should know how to answer these questions when the board of directors comes a-knocking.
Digital Store Guide
Imagine Amazon was a physical market. How large would it be? How lost would we get? How many sales advisers would we need to satisfy everyone? Indeed, strategy (a.k.a me) tells us that the greatest advantage stores have over digital channels is their staff. It’s only logical then that in the near future, digital channels equip themselves with personal shopper/Digital Store Guides to palliate this shortcoming.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: the rich get personalised help and the poor get a non-functioning chatbot.
Augmented Reality Storyteller
Virtual Reality hasn’t delivered all that was promised (yet). Augmented Reality, however, is all the rage, and probably will continue to be. As such, as the experience economy and the concept of gamification gathers steam, it is only logical that we ask our augmented reality experience to have a great story-line one might learn grand lessons from. This is where the storyteller comes in. This job will go great with training (military and corporate), as well as sleekly-hidden marketing.
Virtual Reality has so far under-delivered, but it’s not dead yet. Once we’ve built our story-lines (see above), we need to create entire worlds (think Ellen Page in Inception). This role requires many of the same skills asked of a video-game designers, except with a potentially entirely different endgame. Here again, the potential for training are endless, but the psychology angle is also a fun one to imagine: why slay inner demons when you can pretend slay them in the digital world?
Edge Computing, Digital Stores, AR, VR… All of these will have adverts. That’s just how we roll. And as soon as we get tired of the novelty, we’ll want ad-blockers, who will have to be advanced enough to spot adverts embedded within reality itself, where only AR glasses could spot them, for example.
“Ad-blocker for your fridge”… the headlines just write themselves.
The New Legal Framework JobsEthics Officer
Companies are increasingly taking a stance to counteract the governments’ failures. This trend is likely to continue given the increasing proximity between companies and their customers (if their adverts are any indication, Zara knows me better than I know myself). The Ethics Officer would hold a role similar to the modern CSR Manager, except that they’ll actually be taken seriously within the organisation as they’d be dealing with both finance, IT, data… (blockchain, BitCoin, A.I…).
Trust is about to become a VERY big deal, as we’ve already begun to see in the age of “Fake News”. As such, it doesn’t seem to far-fetched to hire someone who would be responsible for ensuring that customers know they can trust the corporation with their private data, savings, secrets, loved ones… Much like PR, but taken seriously. As it stands, I only trust my barber and my bartender so there’s clearly a lot of work to be done.
Personal Data Representative
This role is linked to my dream of inventing a system whereby companies would pay for the data used to power job-crushing algorithms, bringing back a bit of fairness in the economy.
A PDR would be a person or company which would legally represents the entirety of someone’s data and invest it in the right databases to get its customers better returns. It would be in the PDR’s best interest to make sure no one uses his or her customers’ data without legitimate interest or consent, making the role doubly useful. It would also help implement a basic framework for the portability of data, which is increasingly a legal requirement.
The New A.I JobsData Investigator
As I’ve mentioned over and over and over, algorithms should be able to explain their underlying mechanism in simple terms. This becomes even more important as A.I becomes embedded in everyday life, including within the justice system. I believe there should be a button next to adverts on Instagram that says “Why are you seeing this?”.
This won’t happen.
What MIGHT happen is the creation of a role which entails rummaging through code in order to find why that car swerved onto a group of preschoolers instead of hitting a pregnant woman.
Whereas a data investigator answers questions that HAVE been asked, a Data Detective (such a cool name) would generate answers to questions that were not necessarily asked (or vice-versa) by digging into the data produced by new technologies such as the Internet of Things. Does being out of milk lead to a rise in crime? Does an increase in drones mean a decrease in pigeon birth?
I don’t know, but I’d like (someone else) to find out.
Predictive Customer Service Agent
Yes, call centers do already exist, but with the rise of Big Data, I believe some of the most advanced companies might want to stop being reactive to their customers’ issues and start being proactive. Based on customers’ profiles, their shopping habits, and the rate of quality issues with a product, divining whether or not the customer has a problem with a product or a service may not be such a big leap.
And giving a call a day before one’s oven statistically goes on the fritz sounds like a lot untapped revenues to me.
The “Bridge Between Worlds” JobsMan-Machine Collaboration Analyst
Automation is likely to impact a significant percent of jobs in the very near future (do I hear 51%?) But which question do we answer first when it comes to automation? Who do we pair? Who do we automate? When? Do we enhance or replace? The blend is ongoing but will continue to be important. There’s a chance economists will take that role. There is a probably higher chance that consultants are left to do it instead. Yay.
As it stands, IT and business need to learn to better communicate. I think we’ve all noticed it. Yet, speaking both languages is a rare talent, as is combining business necessities with technological/technical abilities and hardware budgets. Expect the chosen few to lead a highly rewarding financial life.
Finally, once we’ve decided what and who to automate, and IT and Business parts of the company have agreed on a way forward, there still needs to be a way to fairly and tactfully inform the workers of this new strategy. And dpending on the industry, these workers may not be the most technologically savvy crowd. Or the most understanding. This is where the Workers’ Champion comes in. For proof that this role is necessary, Google worker cages.
Yes, I’m pretty much saying unions should make a comeback.
What have I become.
The New Cities JobsSmart City Analyst
City planners just became cool again! Especially given how smart cars without drivers will redefine what a city is. For example, if cars can now park themselves outside the city without a driver, do we need so many parking spots? If I have data from every mobile in town, can I predicatively send more or less police or firemen in an area? The possibilities are pretty endless.
As cities grow, evolve and get a higher IQ, we will be forced to make away with parts of the past. It will be the Conservationist’s job to digitally preserve images and blueprints from roads and buildings, so that our past may forever continue to inform our future. This role already exists, in fact, but on a much smaller scale.
Remote car mechanic
As cars become more automated and more connected, will we always need to go see our mechanic for every little issue? If the talks of digital twins are real, we may soon see a lot of currently client-facing roles become more remote. I’d wager mechanics go with the first wave.
As renewable energy becomes more prominent, every house is likely to produce power for its own use. However, should someone go on holiday, that energy might go unused, and could be sold to a neighbor having a party who needs more electricity for the Prince hologram he’s planned to unveil. That’s when the Microgrid Analyst would come in, making sure energy is used as efficiently s possible on the much smaller level than we’re currently used to, but with a much higher number of energy sources going to more places.
Other jobs will see a renaissance, such as concierges (mo’ parcels mo’ problems) and craftmanship roles (economies of scale aren’t as necessary as they once were). Others will become increasingly important (healthcare and education). Finally, some won’t change but will be enhanced: I’m especially talking about care-giving, banking, nursing, training, R&D, HR … All of which can be A.I-assisted.
My kids will be born in a complicated world. A hostile world, at times. A warming world, more worryingly. One can only hope they will find their way in this mess, and choose a career which will ensure their survival and happiness in the confusing years ahead.
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