What are the Jobs of Tomorrow?
by Dorothy Kropf
As a member of Generation X (born in 1965-1979), I aspired to different jobs that millennial generation (born 1980 to early 2000) members are now aspiring to. Generation X members had set career options and felt secure about them (At least I did). The jobs for the millennial generation members are constantly evolving. They are either disappearing because jobs are being replaced by robots and computers or new jobs are in the horizon and no one (not even the top economists) has any idea of how these jobs will pan out.
For instance, as I graduated from high school in 1982, I aspired to being an interior designer or an architectural draftsperson. Hence, I got a degree in Interior Design. I enjoyed manual drafting, presenting with blueprints (Crazy enough, I miss the smell of a blueprint paper right after it has been printed out), and creating realistic illustrations of interiors and landscapes (by hand, imagine that) for clients (That was when “virtual” was just a concept). Right around 1984, my enthusiasm at work began to dissipate. My current employer, an architect for Los Angeles supermarkets and other retail stores and wholesale establishments, discovered CAD (Computer Aided Design/Drafting).
Sure, CAD was impressive. It eliminated hours of re-doing blueprints and sketches. However, I did not enjoy it and did not feel any enthusiasm to go to work after a few weeks of transitioning to CAD. I enjoyed drawing – when I say drawing, I meant using a T-bar on a drafting table. I meant using a slide ruler, mechanical pencil and their sharpeners. I did not enjoy pushing numbers in a keyboard to generate my floor plans. I tried to enjoy CAD. However, my days were just plain dull (from my point of view). I realized that jobs were changing at that time and I was not ready for it.
We are now in 2012. Many years have brought me to where I am now.
I chose “education” as my area of study because I know that even with technology the world will still need teachers. Is that a safe assumption? The roles of teachers are evolving as I write this article. Many college professors find themselves going back to classrooms to learn to transition from brick and mortar classrooms to online classrooms. We are now seeing new jobs such as discussion moderators, online academic advisers, and adjunct online instructors.
Teachers are starting to be referred to as facilitators of the online classrooms. They are still teaching but in a completely different way. Lectures are now being uploaded in learning management systems. Lectures are in videos, PDF, or in slide presentations. Mash up is a new term for brick and mortar professors. For online college professors, instead of communicating with their students two to three hours per week in brick and mortar classrooms, they find themselves communicating with students every day through discussion boards, email, and Skype. Discussions also have ripple effects of questions and comments from students that online instructors should respond to in a timely manner. Online schools usually mandate 24 -hour response time to students with questions, and less than 1 week to grading 20-page essays for all 15-20 students in an online classroom. That was a radical change from my professors in the 80’s who gave back our graded papers after 3 weeks (if we’re lucky). Unless they just skimmed through these essays, grading them manually is a time-consuming process. Even if teaching jobs still exist, these jobs are evolving with the fast pace of technological advances and many teachers find themselves waking up in cyber classrooms – unprepared and quite overwhelmed.
To look into another career evolution, bankers were finance gurus back in the 1980’s. We all had to adhere to bankers’ hours. We liked “bankers’ hours” because that equates to 9am to 5pm, Mondays to Fridays. Saturdays were optional in the 1990’s and banks were open on Saturdays at 10:00am to 2:00pm. Let us look at the bank tellers we have now. I see them in grocery stores, having fewer and fewer face-to-face transactions with their customers because of ATM machines and online banking.
So what types of jobs will my grandchildren have someday?I agree with Randy Gage, the author of “Risky is the New Safe” when he said that we are coming up against an era with new opportunities and jobs that we have not quite defined just yet (Gage, 2012). Jobs in 2018 are still unclear to experts (2012). However, we do know that we are facing an era in which our society demands faster computers, versatility of smart phones and tablets, communications through videos, and quick access to education (2012).
Brick and mortar blackboards are now being replaced by online blackboards (including the LMS brand). College professors wearing suits and carrying briefcases are now professors with laptops and I don’t think they are wearing suits at home as they teach their online classrooms. It’s interesting to think about online teachers. They could still be in their pajamas as they correct their students’ assignments. I am guilty of answering to student posts at 9:00pm in my jammies.
We have genetically engineered foods. Hence, the jobs of farmers are evolving or fading as well. We are seeing a boom in genetic engineering professions, from lab workers to scientists. We are relying more and more on Google Analytics to see how our online businesses are progressing. Business experts are not just reviewing spreadsheets but online dashboards that generate website visitors, etc. We are seeing an aggressive flow of online admissions representatives from for-profit universities. We are constantly being researched by marketing researchers but not on the questions we answer on surveys but on how many times we click on certain websites. The world is changing. To be lagging behind in technology is a big mistake.
Online teachers need to learn everything they need to learn on social media, learning management systems. They also need to understand the study habits of the millennial generation students and come up with effective ways to communicate with them. Business people should be looking into investing more on creating an impressionable presence in the digital world. Store managers should learn to manage online retail stores. Manufacturers should look into drop shipping. Restaurants should invest in online menus. Employment agencies are starting to rely on online career fairs and online job postings. The list goes on and on. So what jobs are lurking in the future horizon? No one can say exactly but as you answer this question, try doing the following:
- Look at analyze the multitudes of functions that your phone, your computer, and tablets are performing. Go through new apps that are available. I recently got a binocular app to get a close-up look of my son during his high school graduation.
- Check out social networking processes and read what millennial generation members are interested in.
- Read what’s on the label of every item you purchased. (Genetically engineered foods?)
- Test drive a car and see how cars are evolving every year (Blue tooth connections? GPS? I haven’t seen a Thomas Map book for years).
- Visit large retail stores and see what’s selling (smartphones, tablets? I’m sorry if you bought a PDA in the 90′s)
- Visit a Starbucks and see how many people scan their phones to pay for their coffee.
- Go to amazon or ebay websites and check out the gadgets that are in demand.
- Watch a video through Netflix or Amazon.
- Visit freelance sites such as elance.com and find out more about techie jobs.
- Review job postings such as those in monster.com and see new jobs emerging.
- Type virtual in your search engine and see the virtual jobs that are emerging.
- Read PC magazine online.
- Visit U.S. News and World Report website and check out the top schools, top programs, and their new categories.
- Visit coursematters.org and see what college students are up against.
We are living in a technological era. We have access to all types of information. I am sure that by following some of these suggestions, you can get an idea of how the future would look like. Will your job still be here tomorrow?
Gage, R. (2012). Risky is the new safe. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.