For the last six years, university students from across Canada have been invited to participate in a competition to best define the world of work in the year 2040. Focus 2040 is an annual event facilitated by McMaster University’s De Groote School of Business in association with the Strategic Capability Network of Toronto. The winners receive monetary rewards and internships by sponsoring companies such as Ford and WestJet.

Focus2040 – 2015 was held at the Burlington Convention Centre in March. It is organized by student volunteers who facilitate and administer a stimulating day of outstanding power point and verbal presentations from ten undergraduate or graduate student finalists.

As a preliminary judge, I read a batch of the initial 750 word submissions of the vision of the worker of 2040. The highest scoring of all the entries are short listed to stage 2 where 1500 word essays are judged that predict the forces that will shape where work is done, with a blueprint of the workplace of 2040.

The finalists were six pairs and four individuals from various universities and with varying levels of education. All contestants present a 20 minute exhibition then answer questions from the 10 member judging panel.

Though all the presentations have a different theme, there seems to be one common thread that runs through each presentation each year, and this year it was the use of holograms

Here are some of the highlights of how students of today view the workplace of 25 years from now:

  • More regulations, more cultural changes
  • More women in the workplace
  • Holographic technology for lectures, starting in high school
  • You will wear a head set that produces holograms so you are not actually live and in person at a meeting but hologrammed in
  • Creativity parties to generate inspiration and innovative solutions
  • Smartchip technology under your skin- even your alarm clock would be in the chip under you skin
  • Personalized tablets with no outside web sites
  • Flat versus hierarchical structures within companies
  • Speaking many languages and possess global experience required to get ahead and remain employed in anything than a low level job
  • Projects will prevail and you will get to pick the ones you want to do as long as they match your skill set
  • The amount of work you put out will determine your salary
  • Social responsibility will be a mandatory part of your education
  • Corporate Social Responsibility, making a difference and helping others you work with, will be a trend; it is the future
  • Work from home up to 3 days a week. No job titles
  • Because of less face time with colleagues people will have poorer communication skills
  • A new grading system will mark you on what you learn from your mistakes not just what you accomplish
  • Human Resources departments will be a scouting service
  • There will be Workers and Innovators and you must pre select your preference before entering the workplace
  • Automatic translation when speaking to someone from another country who doesn’t speak your language
  • Contact lenses will connect you digitally to people you are to meet with
  • Routine jobs will be automated

One team foresaw the Jobs That Will Remain are in health care, teaching, the arts and GP’s. Jobs That Will Leave are predicted to be taxi/ bus drivers and surgeons, except for those who are highly specialized. Emerging Jobs will be in robotics, engineering, programming and geriatrics.

That’s how the young people of today see the world of work tomorrow, anyway. What do you think?

– Colleen Clarke

Colleen Clarke, Career Specialist & Corporate Trainer

Author of Networking: How to Build Relationships That Count, How to Get a Job and Keep It

Co-author of The Power of Mentorship; The Mastermind Group