4 Careers of the future
In this section you will fast forward to the long-term vision, to give a sense of the kind of changes the government anticipates might – or might not – come in the next 15 years. No one can predict the future, but awareness of possible major change in an occupational sector can help people to assess levels of risk and respond ahead of time. How future aware are you?
In 2014 the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) produced The Future of Work: Jobs and Skills in 2030. They suggested different possible scenarios for work in the future – each dependent upon the way in which the economy may, or may not, grow (UKCES, 2014). Two of these scenarios are presented below: Figure 1 shows ‘business-as-usual’, which looks at how the way we work now will gradually change in the future; Figure2 shows a more disruptive ‘skills activism’ scenario.
Common to both scenarios is the increasing influence of online working and creation of a ‘virtual’ workforce, artificial intelligence and robotics. Some projections from the United States (US) have robotics and artificial intelligence automating more than 40% of jobs in the US in the next 20 years.
The business-as-usual scenario (Figure 1) looks at the implications of increasing forced flexibility of workers and increased competition for lower skilled jobs. Skills activism projects (Figure 2) what could happen if current technological change leads to large-scale job losses.
Activity 6 Looking to 2030
Note down what you think is most striking about the two scenarios and how this information might relate to the sector in which you are working.
What action do you think an individual could take to respond to these suggested pictures of the future?
Developments in technology, ICT and high-tech industries are a common theme. The need to learn new skills, or to update existing ones, will be increasingly important.
The Future of Work report identified that increased individual responsibility would be a key aspect of working life in the future. As the world of work becomes more flexible, employees will be expected to shoulder more and more responsibility for skills development. Self-management (e.g. juggling part-time roles with two employers), project management expertise and the ability to promote your personal brand will become increasingly vital.
Personal agility – the ability to adapt to or embrace change – is also important here. This will be particularly the case for young people who will be competing against those with more experience.
International competition and technological development are likely to continue to increase the flexibility that employers demand from their employees (UKCES, 2014).
These are scenarios of possible futures. No one can know what might come to be, and it is likely that wholly unanticipated trends will also play a part. However, given the scale of the possible change, career resilience looks likely to be needed increasingly.
How comfortable do you feel hedging your bets against eventualities which may never happen? Which are the aspects of these scenarios that might enthuse you? Confidence despite uncertainty is another aspect of career resilience you could consider.