The career and workplace landscape is rapidly changing and the prospects are both fascinating and frightening. Will your job still exist five, 10 or 15 years from now? And, if so, will it still be the same job you’re doing today? What sort of additional training will you need to catch up?
And, if you’re just joining the workforce, or haven’t even joined yet, how can you plan and what sort of career paths should you be looking at?
To help with that, CST, an RESP organization, has created a “digital job fair of the year 2030” as part of its Inspired Minds initiative. The idea is “to give kids a sneak peek at what the future may hold for them,” in Canada. Though, given that 2030 is only 16 years away, this is not only pertinent to kids. Plenty of people change careers in their 40s. Could you be a robot counsellor?
That’s one of the jobs graduates might have in 2030, according to CST.
If, like we were, you’re wondering if this is a robot who counsels humans, or a human who counsels depressed robots, both your guesses are wrong (good guesses, though!). It’s actually someone who will help families choose the right robot for them. Also, “If a robot isn’t fitting in, or if family conflicts arise due to the new house robot, the robot counselor is on hand to provide better options and ongoing customer service.”
Another potential job of the future: Nostalgist. This is “an interior designer specializing in recreating memories for retired people.” Neat.
Eight more jobs on the list, with links to their descriptions (and see the entire list here):
Aquaponic fish farmer
Solar technology specialist
Neighbourhood watch officer
To create their list CST “partnered with 40+ leading experts across Canada to collect their insights on the future of their industries and worked with foresight strategists to create job descriptions that will likely be available in 2030.”
Jayar La Fontaine, one of these “foresight strategists,” explains their methodology and what this report means for people in or entering the workforce.
He also makes it clear that these job titles and descriptions aren’t predictions, per se. “That’s not what we do,” he says. “What we do is help generate fruitful conversations about what the future might be like. I think that gets us a lot further than saying ‘In the year 2030 we’ll all have flying cars,” because futurists don’t have a very good track record with making these types of pronouncements.”
As for how they came up with these jobs, he explains, “We identified some key drivers of change, which include things like changing population and demographics, a potential for climate change to have an impact, the fact that Canada is increasingly an energy-centered country. Also, we’re having fewer kids, we have more new Canadians. Then there are the wild cards, like what’s the future of digital technology, what’s the future of international security instability?
“Then we ask, how does this affect work in the healthcare space, manufacturing, the service industry? From there it’s an exercise in science fiction.”
One of La Fontaine’s colleagues is award-winning science fiction author Karl Scroeder.
Asked how people can use this information to prepare for working in the future, La Fontaine says, “I think the big takeaway is that the future job landscape is going to be more complex than the present job landscape. We shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking in a linear way about going to school, learning a discipline, and going directly into that professional pathway that will take us all the way to retirement. That does happen but it’s much more rare.”
And “We are facing uncertainty,” but don’t be scared. “People should try to make themselves as resilient as possible by learning a range of skills, and also the kind of soft skills that let you navigate any kind of situation. Like just the ability to interact with people and to do business.”
CST’s Vice President, Martha Turner, echoes that thought, saying, “STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) remain important, but soft skills such as creativity, critical thinking and collaboration are becoming essential criteria for the jobs of tomorrow.”
Think soft skills! All of the things she mentions will be crucial to navigating a path that is ever-changing.
Meanwhile, I asked La Fontaine about his own job, because before this week, I had never heard of a foresight strategist. Had you?
“I try to find the weak signals of change that are in the environment today. Whatever is going to happen tomorrow is already in the zeitgeist, but it’s not widespread. So, you might find it in places like hacklabs or research laboratories. I then imagine how they might develop, and help clients imagine the future in a richer way.”
La Fontaine, 32, got an undergrad and a graduate degree in philosophy, then “took time off and worked for a while with individuals with acquired brain injuries,” before attending OCAD’s graduate program in foresight strategy. Yes. That really is a thing.
“They’ve graduated about 100 students,” he says. “It seemed like an interesting field that blends business thinking with design thinking and a view to the future, which intrigued me because I’m a science fiction fan.”
So, there’s another career for you. If you don’t want to be an aquaponic fish farmer, of course.