There’s no doubt that the future of work is changing.

New technology, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are already making their mark on the economy, causing significant upheaval in the job market. There is much discussion about a ‘jobless future’ — after all, what are humans needed for, if machines can do most of the work?

While experts predict that some industries will be hit hard in terms of redundancies and retrenchment, it’s not all bad news for tomorrow’s job seekers.

Work has always changed

If you look back over history, work has always changed. Once upon a time, people worked as chimney sweeps, lamp-lighters and rat catchers. With the invention of the telephone, switchboard operators were an integral part of the communication network before technology took over. At one point, humans manually performed the complex mathematics in order to put astronauts into orbit.

The thought of performing those jobs today seems laughable, as advances in technology rendered them obsolete long ago. Similarly, the rapid progress of automation and AI we’re experiencing today will render many of today’s jobs obsolete in the not too distant future, and we’ll probably look back and wonder – ‘did we really do that job?’

With a new future of work on the horizon, it can be easy to feel threatened or afraid for our jobs and our earning potential. However, reality is that the future holds many jobs that don’t exist today.

Looking into a crystal ball

According to SEEK, the top five Australian industries that are experiencing the most growth include:

  • Trades and Services
  • Science and Technology
  • Healthcare and Medical
  • Engineering
  • Mining, Resources and Energy

So what types of new jobs could we expect to see within these booming industries?

Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work, wrote a white paperproposing 21 jobs that will emerge over the next 10 years. These predictions are basedon the current major macroeconomic, political, demographic, societal, cultural, business and technology trends. Furthermore, the authors of the report believe that these roles will become cornerstones of the new future of work, rather than some far-fetched fantasy of science fiction.

Here are five of these jobs, that could very well exist here in Australia, based on the industries that are experiencing a boom right now.

Industry #1 — Trades and Services

New Job: Virtual Store Sherpa

It’s expected that online shopping will continue to evolve to include a greater number of virtual stores, complete with personalised ‘Sherpas’ available to meet every customer need. Customers will no longer to need to visit ‘real’ stores even for their hardware, gardening and home design needs. Instead, customers will be matched up to a personalised Sherpa, who has the right skills to be able to advise on their needs. 

Via online platforms, augmented reality glasses and videolinks, it’s anticipated that Sherpas with skills such as carpentry, plumbing, gardening, or home design will be able to interact with customers and provide their expert advice for every home project.

Hard skills required

  • Apprenticeship with, or background as, a registered licensed contractor.
  • Demonstrated track record as a journeyman/ journeywoman, contractor, painter, carpenter, landscape designer, plumber or tool foreman.
  • Experience in retail sales and working with customers.

Soft skills required:

  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Exceptional organisational skills.
  • High attention to detail.
  • Ability to multitask.

Industry #2 — Science and Technology

New Job: Genomic Portfolio Director

With the explosion of biotechnology research and advances in DNA analysis and gene editing technology, it’s expected that new drugs will be developed at unprecedented rates. There will be opportunities for those with business acumen and scientific qualifications to create strategies to meet customer’s ongoing health-related needs, in a way that is profitable for biotech companies. This role will also involve working closely with health organisations, major insurers, large health systems and hospitals.

Hard skills required:

  • An undergraduate degree with a specific focus in genomics; a master’s degree in business and/or molecular biology or equivalent experience is preferred.
  • Research, sales/marketing or closely related experience.
  • Laboratory experience in a research or quality control setting 

Soft skills required:

  • Leadership experience.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with many stakeholders.
  • Strong negotiating skills.
  • Exceptional analytical skills and ability to interpret information.

Industry #3 — Healthcare and Medical

New Job: Personal Memory Curator

With an ageing population comes the increased likelihood of simple memory loss. Enter the Personal Memory Curator who will be required to provide a ‘live well’ solution for the elderly, by creating and delivering seamless virtual environments for them to inhabit. In this role, the curator will consult with patients to generate specifications for virtual reality experiences that bring a particular time, place or event to life.

Hard skills required:

  • Solid grounding in virtual reality simulation techniques.
  • Solid psychology qualification to uncover experience cues.
  • Narrative and storytelling capability.

Soft skills required:

  • High degree of emotional intelligence (supportive and encouraging to the patient).
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Genuine concern for the welfare of others.
  • Strong creative skills.
  • Ability to work in a team.
  • Thirst for innovation.

Industry #4 — Engineering

New Job: Cyber City Analyst

Those with engineering or IT qualifications may be able to find work as a Cyber City Analyst. It’s expected that nearly all municipal functions, including emergency services, power provisioning and waste collection, will use sensor data to ensure fast and effective delivery of key city services. In this role of the future, analysts will ensure the steady flow of data around cities, including bio data, citizen data, and asset data. They’ll ensure technical and transmission equipment functions and will carry out any necessary repairs when automated data flows are broken, faulty or hacked. This role will also involve diagnosing and fixing key city support processes. 

Hard skills required:

  • Digital engineering qualifications in Agile, DevOps and continuous integration. 
  • Understanding of key IT skills.
  • Circuitry skills (solder electronics, print silicon, etc.).
  • Ability to read analytics and visualization platforms.
  • Experience with 3-D printing.

Soft skills required:

  • Understanding of design thinking.
  • Ability to work under pressure.
  • Ability to work in a team.

Industry #5 — Mining, Resources and Energy

New Job: Ethical Sourcing Officer 

With an increased focus on environmentalism and ethics, more companies are considering what’s ethical rather than just profitable. As a result, those with experience in energy management could find themselves working as an Ethical Sourcing Officer. This role would involve working on ethical sourcing initiatives which are in line with the standards set by stakeholders. Ethical spends in energy, waste and community sponsorship will all be important. The person in this role will be responsible for checking the ethical integrity of every contract and supply chain and will lead negotiations around contractual terms and conditions.

Hard skills required:

  • Proven ability to define ethical behavior within the context of corporate objectives.
  • Educational background or experience in business, law, governance or environmental management.

Soft skills required:

  • Very strong negotiation skills.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to work well on a team.
  • Strong analytical skills.
  • Ability to adapt to different client needs and develop and maintain successful working relationships.

How to make the most of future job opportunities

It’s important to remember that while the way we’ll work in the future will change, not all jobs we’re familiar with will disappear. There will always be a need for doctors, nurses, teachers, and police officers, for example. 

However, it’s clear that within the next 10 years, many jobs that we currently take for granted will no longer exist, and instead a new automated world of work will take its place. This will require us to think and work in a way that we’ve never had to before. 

In order to stay relevant, we’ll need to think outside of the box. We’ll need to be problem-solvers, critical thinkers, and excellent communicators. While hard skills will certainly play an important role in the way we will transition into new roles, it will be a willingness to learn new things — either through upskilling, or on the job training — that will be key in ensuring long-term employment.

Careers of the future will be far less linear than they have been in the past, and so we’ll need to think about how our skills can transfer in other jobs, if we want to remain employed. Data shows that on average, when someone works in one job, they actually acquire skills that can be used in as many as 13 jobs. This reflects employers’ demand for very similar skills across multiple roles.

In some instances, new roles will be born overnight. Consider the introduction of the iPhone back in 2007, which created a new industry of app development almost overnight, closely followed by the need for accessories and repairs for these smartphones. However, not all roles will change so dramatically. Some will evolve more slowly, as businesses learn how to apply this new technology and train their people to maximise its potential.

Either way, the future of work looks exciting, dynamic and filled with opportunities. Get ready for the ride.