While technology can increase the prestige of some skilled jobs, such as medical use of lasers, for others it’s having the opposite effect – for example, our increased use of email means fewer postie jobs.
But then there are the new jobs emerging or evolving as a result of technology. Who would have imagined working as a social media specialist five years ago?
No one can say with certainty what the future work environment will look like. But experts predict that evolving and emerging jobs in these seven career areas have the most promising futures:
Medicine and health care
Health care is one of the biggest and fastest-growing industries in the western world. A greater focus on preventive care, and an ageing population, will put health care workers in greater demand.
This includes jobs such as:
- occupational therapist
- dental hygienist
- tertiary lecturer (health specialities)
- personal trainer.
The role of nursing support worker might evolve into that of a virtual health support worker – monitoring patients’ health remotely using digital technology, saving them a trip to the hospital. Other newly emerging preventive health roles and some creative marketing could see the rise of job titles like paleo coach, Zumba instructor on Instagram, yoga, or underwater yoga instructor.
There’ll also be increased demand for biomedical engineers, who’ll produce new types of prosthetics and artificial organs. If you want to know your likelihood of getting a disease like breast cancer and how to reduce the risks, you’ll consult with a genetic counsellor. And if you have an accident, stem cell researchers will grow you a new body part.
Renewable energy and green jobs
We’re far from saying sayonara to oil and gas, but as alternative energy sources such as wind, hydrogen, geothermal, and solar become more mainstream we can expect to see more people working in these fields as:
- mechanical engineering technicians and plant managers
- solar panel installers
- sales and marketing professionals.
Businesses need to respond to climate change, so we’re also seeing roles emerging in sustainable agriculture and clean tech: clean energy and environmental, sustainable or green products and services.
Many of these will involve engineering – chemical engineers to design less wasteful manufacturing processes, for example – or knowledge of applied science or scientific research. But a new kind of eco-friendly job is
Home performance advisors recommend energy-efficient solutions to homeowners, and Auckland University of Technology offers a Bachelor of Business majoring in sustainable enterprise, with graduates helping businesses to become more socially and environmentally responsible.
Computers, the internet and smartphones have changed the way we do business and communicate. And as their use continues to rise, so will the demand for information technology
(IT) professionals such as:
- database/systems administrators
- software architects
- user experience [UX] designers
- game developers.
You can also expect to see growth in roles like app developers and even – as more confidential information goes online – ethical hackers, or information security analysts, employed to hack into systems to pinpoint problems in a company’s cybersecurity.
Other new and emerging roles include big data architects, who help businesses improve their performance by managing, sorting and filtering volumes of data, and cloud service specialists who deliver, design and build cloud-based IT systems.
International and environmental law
With more businesses becoming global traders and interested in global issues, demand is rising for those with experience in international law, tax codes, work and environmental regulations, and even ethics.
As the rules on greenhouse gases and pollution tighten, there’ll also be a place for environmental lawyers who can advise their clients on green initiatives and sustainability issues.
A law degree with an emphasis on international or environmental law combined with study in science subjects will be important when it comes to understanding technical issues such as water quality.
Content creation and marketing
Education-based marketing has created a demand for writers and marketers specialising in digital content like social media, blogs, online newsletters and website articles.
Digital influencers are part of a new group of writers who make a living from their work on social media, and do well if their stories capture the public’s imagination. Crowdfunding specialists, like those at PledgeMe, come up with innovative digital campaigns to raise funds for start-ups.
Most content creators have at least a bachelor’s degree and a combination of some other specialised skills like photography, marketing, public relations, YouTube content creation, and social media expertise.
Data science has been labelled the sexiest career of the century as facts and statistical-based predictions become an integral part of business decision-making.
Data scientists trawl through data and analyse numbers, like customer transaction data, so that companies can provide more targeted and personalised marketing. Or, in an eco-friendly data role, a water footprint manager calculates a business’s water usage and suggests ways to use less.
A bachelor’s degree in a science, social science or even a business field – such as marketing, statistics or maths – is required before a master’s in data science. Experience in quantitative data analysis, and the ability to tell a meaningful story from your research findings, is vital.
Unsettled economic times have demonstrated a need for sound financial advice and planning for individuals and businesses. As we age and increasingly rely on superannuation, there’ll be more focus on good investment advice and professional help to plan for retirement.
To become a financial advisor, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in commerce,
economics, and/or accounting,
and great people skills.