What will working in the future look like?

Once technology has swept away the more repetitive and manual roles, the jobs that remain are set to be more multifaceted and changeable, says Paul Mason, emerging technologies director for Innovate UK. He predicts the ‘survival of the most adaptable’ in leadership and highly skilled roles, raising the possibility of leaving behind a whole group of workers and creating a two-tier society.

Continual education and skills development will also play a key role as jobs and technology continue to evolve more quickly, says Anand Chopra-McGowan, head of enterprise new markets for General Assembly. And the move towards more flexible part-time and freelance working looks set to continue.

Another difficulty in predicting the future of jobs is that in the past technology was simply a replacement for old ways of doing things, but as computers develop the capacity to learn and think, completely new priorities and possibilities will come into play. With less people required to keep our world running, there is also the potential for concentrating on previously overlooked endeavors, like treating the earth more sustainably and reaching other planets, surmises Dave Coplin, chief envisioning officer for Microsoft UK.

The prediction that 40% of the jobs we do today will be lost to automation, from Oxford University economists Dr Carl Frey and Dr Michael Osborne, is likely to be fairly accurate. What is harder to predict though, is how changes in society and technology will create new reasons for us to get up in the morning. The consensus amongst experts is that the jobs of tomorrow will not be the same as those of today.

The big question is, just what will we all be doing with ourselves?

10 jobs that will be commonplace in 2050

1. Medical roboticist

Advanced four arm medical robots are already a reality, performing operations with pinpoint precision, and this technology will only become more widespread. Controlling it requires a thorough knowledge of human anatomy and high-tech machinery.

2. Cyber security specialist

As more of our world moves online, so more of it will become vulnerable to cyber-crime and theft. Bring on the online reinforcements.

3. Simulation engineer

As virtual reality gets into more and more areas of our lives, we’ll need more and more hands on the virtual deck to create alternate worlds for us. Those with imagination and technical skills, step to the front of the queue.

4. Construction specialist

New ways to build, such as 3D modelling and printing, coupled with advanced robotics will increase the speed, complexity and possibilities of what architects can dream up. Operatives who construct the buildings of the future will need to be highly skilled.

5. Transportation engineer

Emerging technology for the super fast trains and transport systems of the future will all need to be maintained, requiring a new generation of engineers.

6. Genetic counsellor

Continuing advances in genomics will make it easier to predict genetic abnormalities before birth, as well as engineer in genetic changes. All this will throw up a whole new set of choices that parents will need help navigating.

7. Human/robot interaction specialist

As robots become part of everyday life, the task of making sure they can interact with humans efficiently, and more interestingly how we deal with interactions with them, will need addressing.

8. Weather controller

Our understanding of how weather patterns work is growing, and with it the potential to manipulate them. With the huge potential for affecting crop yields and preventing natural disasters, this is destined to become a specialism.

9. Ethics lawyer

There will always be a place for lawyers, and as technology brings new capabilities and possibilities, ethical questions will become more complex and more commonplace.

10. Robotics aesthetician

As we all live longer and aesthetic wellbeing becomes more important in society, skilled cosmetic surgeons and dentists who can work with advanced technology will be in demand.

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