Being able to predict future job positions that will be in demand and that will command a reasonable living wage – can mean the difference between having a vibrant career and being consigned to the scrap heap before your time.  

What are the likely future employment trends and what does it mean for career planning?

There are many factors that can influence employment trends – global economics, socio-political, economic development, financial stability, etc., but here we look at general trends in developed economies


Can We Accurately Predict the Top Jobs of the Future?  

The short answer is – yes we can to some extent. However, it’s like predicting the weather. The further into the future, we try to predict – the less accurate we are likely to be. In other words, we can get it pretty close to right up to 2020, but pushing it out to 2030 is a lot more difficult.

In a very interesting article by the executive director and senior futurist at the Da Vinci Institute, Thomas Frey states that we have not yet invented 60% of the jobs that will be available in 10 years time. (Video of Futurist Thomas Frey talking about 162 Jobs of the Future).


Future Predictions and Career Planning

The days of ‘jobs for life’ are more or less a thing of the past. While that may be the case, certain job roles will either continue to be in demand or will increasingly be in demand. Some job roles will decline and may even disappear.

If you want to stay employed for most of your working lives in a job that pays a reasonable wage then you should strive to anticipate and take advantage of changing employment trends.

If you are going to spend a small fortune gaining qualifications then it’s best to know if the qualifications are worth gaining over the long term. If you read Thomas Frey’s article you will see that one of his main concerns is that educational institutions are preparing people to work in jobs from the past. Certainly some of these jobs from the past will continue to be relevant in the future – some will not. You don’t want to be in the ‘not relevant’ sector, and this goes for your kids too if you have any.

The Future of Current Jobs 

In this list, we look at jobs that are currently available with a view to anticipating their future trends.

1.) Construction

While there was a fall off in this sector following the 2008 financial crisis, as economies recover the demand for architects, tradesmen, civil engineers, construction managers, project managers, and supervisors has improved. Current demand is on the increase and this is likely to continue over the short term.

Traditionally construction was a big employer. However, construction projects of similar size will not require as much manpower as it has in the past. Obviously, technology is a huge influence here, but there is also a developing trend in how many building projects are carried out. Large parts of the project are built at a central location in modular form and transported to the site along with a crew who specialise in putting it all together. The fast food chain McDonalds are one of the many retail outfits who now use such a system when building new premises. 3D house printing is also on the way.

Construction can also be a fickle industry in that when an economy dips the construction industry quickly follow.

Currently in a growth phase so it’s a good bet over the short term. There will always be a certain amount of jobs in the construction industry, especially if you’re prepared to travel. However, overall, construction is unreliable and over a working lifetime you are likely to experience periods of unemployment. The best prospects in the industry will be for engineers, architects, quantity surveyors etc. as demand for new structures will continue.

2.) Agriculture

Once the main employer, the demand for people to work the land is now minimal. That said, the sector is booming along with strong demand for quality food products. Food science, marketing, packaging, transport, etc. are all doing well and this looks set to continue.

The more directly you are associated with the industry the better. By that, I mean that you have direct expertise or skills associated with food production.

3.) Healthcare

While many sectors tend to lose jobs to technology – improved technology and knowledge has caused an increased ability to provide for a whole new range of medical services. There is good demand for almost any trained medical professional.

Strong demand for nurses and other healthcare workers looks set to continue in line with increased demand for private clinics, additional medical services, and retirement homes.

Medical devices are also doing well and will continue to do so as technology increases the availability and affordability of medical equipment.

4.) Education and Training

While one would imagine that better education would be desirable, this is not strongly reflected in government policy in most countries. Funding for 1st and 2nd level teachers doesn’t come anywhere near matching worldwide population growth.

On the other hand, tutoring at 3rd level is reasonably healthy if you are in an area that is tied to qualifications demanded by growing industrial sectors. The same applies to trainers, although online training is having some impact on the sector.

If considering teaching, aim at private schools and institutes. Currently, there is nothing to indicate that state schools will be funded in line with economic improvement. There is also evidence that much of what can be achieved within the school environment can be achieved online, at a fraction of the cost. While we may not necessarily be looking at the disappearance of the school system as we know it – we are likely to be looking at radically reduced hours on a school premises. A handful of teachers will be able to teach hundreds or even thousands of learners online.

5.) Information Technology

Continues to perform strongly a likely will into the future. The explosion in the IT sector doesn’t look to flatline anytime soon. However, the sector changes so fast and has so many different facets that it can be difficult to predict which roles are going to prosper and which ones are not.

For example; app designers are where it’s at right now, but will we even need app designers in 10 years time?

Another example is that Information technology has also brought about a massive increase in demand for online customer care facilities, but wages at entry level are pitiful and many developing countries are now offering online customer care at costs that are difficult to compete with.

IT is an excellent growth area, but you must keep your eye on the ball, be flexible, and be prepared for change.

6.) Transport and Logistics

Currently performing well and looks likely to continue in line with global trade trends. Truck drivers are in demand as are almost any roles involving logistics.

While the trend looks very good, increasing fuel prices and climate change concerns may negatively impact the sector. This looks highly likely at some point. That point is difficult to determine, but advances in transport technology should lead to less need for traditional fossil fuels.

That said, with driverless technology just around the corner – the future of the professional driver is under threat.

7.) Energy and Environment 

This is set to be one of the major growth sectors of the future. Despite resistance from vested interests, there is little doubt that we need sustainable, safe, ecologically friendly energy systems. From insulation to wind turbines the green machine is already creating jobs and developing exciting technologies that will inevitably become impossible to ignore.

Adequate water supplies are already proving problematic therefore water harvesting is certainly on the cards. Engineers, technicians, project managers will all be required. There will be layoffs in traditional energy sectors and much of this expertise will transfer to the new green sector.

While the move to green energy and the increased focus on a greener environmental outlook is slow, it will reach a tipping point and when it does – the sector will grow at a phenomenal rate. Technical expertise will be highly sought after.

8.) Pharma

Although the sector has had some setbacks from a profitability point of view in recent years, it does look set to continue to grow. The industry is also diversifying into new areas like bio-engineering which is sure to continue to develop.

With the right qualifications, future prospects look good. However, many of the developing countries are now in the game and you could find your job outsourced to another country simply because they can manufacture the goods cheaper – elsewhere.

9.) Retail

The sector is not the most reliable and will always suffer in recessionary times.

While retail is subject to all the vagaries of changing economic circumstances, there is increased demand for marketing experts and analysts as well as quality sales personnel. With new global markets waiting to be exploited there is every reason to believe that working in retail is a viable long term career especially with the increasing trend toward online sales and marketing. International sales can insulate you in the event of a local economic downturn though not in the event of a global one.

Futurist Thomas Frey on “Which Industries will Produce the First Trillionaires”

Image and article via Cracking Career Change