Jobs of the Future – What Students Can Do Today to Stay Ahead of Competition Tomorrow



There have been many claims that technology will destroy large portions of the jobs of the future. While technology may have replaced certain functions previously performed by humans, this is a reality that has confronted every generation since the 1800s.

For the students of today, focusing on skills that will be useful for jobs of the future is crucial to get ahead of the competition. Many of these skills are skills employers have listed as their top 10 employment skills for decades – interpersonal, communication, teamwork and organizational skills have consistently been featured as core skills required by employees of all levels, from interns through to senior management.

Apart from these core skills, students and teenagers can look at getting ahead of their competition in the job market by learning skills which are becoming increasingly important for the jobs of the future.

What are the jobs of the future?

So what are the jobs of the future? Internationally, government labor agencies report a similar trend in growth and decline of various occupations.

These top 10 job categories have been listed by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (1) and the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (2) as the occupation categories with highest growth:

  1. Healthcare support
  2. Healthcare practitioners
  3. Technical healthcare practitioners
  4. Personal care and services
  5. Computer and mathematical occupations
  6. Community and social services
  7. Construction and extraction occupations
  8. Business and financial services
  9. Information media and telecommunications
  10. Education, training and library

On the other hand, the job categories in decline or that have lowest growth potential are as follows:

  1. Farming, fishing and forestry
  2. Manufacturing and production
  3. Office and administrative support
  4. Architecture
  5. Arts, design, entertainment sports

Getting ahead of the competition

For all occupation categories described above, the key influencing factor for growth or decline lies with technology and the part technology plays in replacing what used to be able to have been performed by humans.

This means that where skills are concerned, getting ahead of the competition will need to involve technology in one form or another. There are two aspects to this:

  • Jobs that require technical and computer skills to create equipment and software – i.e. technical healthcare professionals, computer and mathematical professionals, any other occupations that involve the development of technology for specific industries; and
  • Jobs that require the ability to manipulate equipment and software – i.e. any occupation that will have to use the equipment and software developed by those who create them.

Jobs that require technical and computer skills

For those who enjoy STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects in school, an obvious choice is to focus building on skills needed for the former – they include the following:

  • maths skills
  • computer coding skills
  • science-related knowledge (physics to a large extent)
  • computer related programs e.g. robotics

Taking STEM subjects and building maths, computer and science knowledge and skills will provide a pathway for studying technology-related courses at college or university.

Jobs that require the ability to manipulate and use technical equipment and software

On the other hand, if you prefer to be in an educational or social service support-related occupation or to be involved in information media and communications, and have no interest at all in building maths or coding skills, focus on taking subjects that will build skills for the latter occupations:

  • language skills
  • creative skills
  • commercial skills
  • design related programs e.g. website design and development

Professional occupations

For students seeking a career in a professional occupation such as doctors, physicians, nurses, lawyers and accountants, the need to build technology skills is crucial because of increased competition.

In the future, the ability to use technology accurately and efficiently to diagnose symptoms in patients or to assist in preparation of a court case will become staples of professional practices.

Staying ahead of competition means learning about technology intended for professionals as soon as possible.

 


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015, Table 4. Employment by major occupational group, 2014 and projected 2024, Department of Labor <https://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.t04.htm>
  2. Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency 2013, Future Focus, 2013 National Workforce Development Strategy <https://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/futurefocus2013nwds-2013.pdf>

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